Dermatophagia and Dermatillomania – Biting or Picking Own Skin Off

Dermatophagia and Dermatillomania - Biting or Picking Own Skin Off

Today’s edition of Best Gore Members Rock is brought to you by Best Gore member @Teal_Kitten, who says she suffers Dermatophagia and Dermatillomania – conditions about which there is little awareness. In her own words:

I’m an artist and I eat my most useful tools. Dermatophagia and dermatillomania (aka ‘wolfbiting’) are conditions where the sufferer bites or picks their own skin off and in most cases, eats it.

I’ve done this my whole life and it’s very annoying considering my work is very taxing on the hands and fingers as it is. I bleed on everything and I’ve even been asked if I had leprosy in the past (granted it was by a certified dipshit), but people do tend to notice and ask me about it.

I don’t consider it self harm, since I’ve done that in the past and it’s a totally different sensation. It feels more like scratching an itch. I’m fairly sure it’s related to OCD in some way.

Dermatophagia is defined as compulsive skin eating, while Dermatillomania is compulsive skin picking. A quick check on teh interweb did indeed suggest that some mental disorder authorities do consider both to be Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.

Thanks a lot for the pics and your story, @Teal_Kitten. Maybe before you know it you find a person who’ll inspire and motivate you to give up nibbling on your own fingers, for a more rewarding nibble 🙂

Author: Acneska

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75 thoughts on “Dermatophagia and Dermatillomania – Biting or Picking Own Skin Off”

  1. @Teal_Kitten,
    Hahahaha what else a kitten can do
    Nibble on and meow
    Jokes aside Bro …………….That’s pretty bad to be eating one’s own skin .Tell me …….Does it outtastes any other taste that you are so inclined to not give up on your this habit.
    I’d be interesated to know What pleasure do you derive out of Dermatophagia
    Are you still able to do artistry after all that damage to your dermal layer ?

    1. It’s not so much about the taste, it’s the same flavour you get just licking your hands. Salty 😛

      Like it says in my quote it’s mainly about scratching an itch, literal and figurative. If you’re a smoker (or have any other kind of addiction) it’s definitely equatable to that. On the other hand (haha hand) I do have some masochistic tendencies and a fascination with blood and mutilation as I’m sure everyone here does :’)

      The feeling of peeling off a large strip of scar tissue is heavenly and I like to nibble it into little pieces inside my mouth using my front teeth. The blood from my finger joints always tastes very very sweet, perhaps because they’re extremities, tasting my blood is also a pleasurable thing for me.

      As for artistry, it comes with a variety of issues because I work with a variety of mediums. Clay, sawdust, glue etc get caught in my wounds and sometimes end up trapped under my skin after it’s healed up. Things that require power tools are frustrating because I can be pushing a piece into a disk sander or band-saw and suddenly the brittle flesh splits open and I’ve bled on my work haha

      I find wrapping my fingers in electrical tape works to stop me biting and prevent any viscera spillage but I then end up nibbling strips off the tape ^^”

      1. @teal_kitten I’m also an artist, and I also do the same thing, but it’s more like picking at sores and not healing for a month later. I also have dermatophagia. Been like that since I was very little. It has OCD components to it. Sometimes my skin will itch and I find I’ve ripped a sore off without consciously knowing I was going to. I’ve never told anyone. BG is the first. I don’t have my hands torn up a lot, but my abdomen looks like I have bullet hole scars. My legs are scarred as well. And yes, the taste is different depending on the phase of healing. You’re not alone.

      2. I have done this since the age of 13 and I’m 32 now. At this point it is so normal that I won’t realize I’m picking sometimes until I see some blood running. I honestly don’t see the problem lol I’ve personally never experienced an infection from the habit. Once my mother said I should worry about picking the scar tissue over and over but like I said it’s not even a conscious effort any longer so stopping isn’t going to happen. Anywho, glad to know it has a name and others who do this. The End 😀

    2. I, too have dermatillomania, and it really doesn’t have anything to do with flavor. Real_kitten explains it beautifully. It doesn’t necessarily taste good, or give a rush that self harm does. It just feels satisfying. Teal_kitten, I’m a film photographer and multi medium artist as well (i think our kind is predisposed to obsessive habits. Lol). I typically use strips of those compression bandages to wrap my fingers ( I can’t stand those little sticky bits that tape leaves on the skin. The compression bandages also taste awful)

  2. I eat my lip skin and the skin around my nails… Mostly the lips(face lol). I always just assumed it was a new habit forming after I quit biting my nails. I don’t do it to the point that it’s very noticeable but my lips do get to bleeding quite a bit and I just eat the blood too. OCD you say? Well let’s just add that to my growing number of mental issues 😀

    1. @DirtyDreamDesigner
      I think ….love is all ya need if you let your seductive lips bleed all the time ……….lol!
      Woah !I guess you need to Kiss us all now to stop that bleeding !

    2. I used to do that a lot too, eat the skin around my nails. Used to chew every fingers until the red flesh was bare, much like the article’s pic. I’ve stopped doing it since about a year only. Not sure if it’s a mental disorder, but one thing is sure is that it’s related to stress and anxiety. Now I have nice fingers and I can cut a citrus with confidence.

        1. @teal_kitten I’ve stopped chewing skin like I stopped smoking cigarette (3 years) : with pure will and a bit of mental preparation. Sometimes I placed band-aid plasters on my fingers so I couldn’t play with the skin. Sometime I would allow myself a really tiny piece of dry sky to chew on, then that was it.

          One of the major trick that helped me for both cigarette and skin is to be proud and congratulate yourself every day you succeed in stopping, even if it mean bragging to someone all the time like ”Hey today is my 2nd day stopping! Hey today is my 10th day stopping!”. Most people will congratulate you, then when you’ll be tempted, you ‘ll feel like you’re letting those people down and it might just bring you back in the right way. Also it is important to change your perception of the thing you want to cease. I suggest reading about it or check out some extreme cases of where your addiction can lead you, it might encourage you.

          I wish you well and luck, Teal Kitten-chan!

    3. I feel you haha at the doctor’s like “oh and by the way I eat myself” :’)

      My lips and the inside of my mouth are pretty torn up usually too, especially in the winter. I’m glad its warming up now, scabby bleedy lips isn’t the look I’m going for xD

  3. @Teal_Kitten,,, Maybe you were a Jewish Rabbi in a past life. This would explain your need to chew the skin off the end of skinny, long things??? Jokes aside. This looks painful man. I hope you can find a way of avoid inflicting this on yourself soon, and resume living a normal existence!

    1. Exactly Bro @thedre !
      That’s what I wanna emphsize upon for him is to quit that nasty habit and begin living a normal existence!
      To heck with , jaws paws and claws …….stop acting your wolverine self @Teal_Kitten.

    1. spoken too early ………[email protected] !
      he still might want to take a bite out of us and who knows where in the dark hours his Body & mind prowls .
      This mutant has tasted blood and its gonna come at us ..better make a run for your life …….he’s coming and there’s no stopping him.

  4. So I went and dug up my old account so I could comment on this post because I suffer from this condition… However I have a havit of using a safety pin to help me pick skin and nail… it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember, it’s always seemed to be oddly comforting… it usually gets a bit bloody when I get particularly anxious because it kind of helps me calm down… I’ve tried nail biting deterrent… which worked for a little bit, but then I just bit them anyway… I’ve actually ripped off half my nail from the cuticle, which means the nail has regrown a bit bumpy… Over the past few years I’ve started picking the skin from all down my thuumb and forefinger on both hands…

    Sorry for rambling… it’s just weirdly to see I’m not the only one who picks and eats their own skin and nails… It’s nice to not feel like a massive freak… (Though I know it is a bit freaky…)


    1. How can you feel like a massive freak after seeing all the fucked up shit on this site xD

      I usually use pointed tweezers to strip off skin, it’s hugely damaging but certainly effective for the task

      Don’t even worry about it, it’s more common than you might think especially with anxious people

      We’ll get past it one day!

      1. Ahaha, probably because I’m so used to the fucked up shit I see here on the lovely BG that more “normal” stuff seems weirder… Plus I suppose it’s different when it’s something thats personal… like I can watch beheading vids until the sun goes down… but any of the vids with animal cruelty I can’t stand… (puppycide vids are my biggest weakness, I have a rescue at my family home and I’m getting a rescue with my partner sometime in the coming months)

        Ahhh you’s be surprised at how good large safety pins are… and I’ve gotten to a stage where tearing off my nail at the cuticle is more or less painless…

        Ahh and yeah we will… anxiety is a bitch (So is depression for that matter) But I’m no where nearly as bad as I was a few years ago. 🙂

  5. I have the same thing. I hate my self for it. It’s so embarrassing. I try to hide it as far as possible. When you begin you can’t stop. I have many scars because of this. It sucks.

    1. N’aww don’t hate yourself!

      It’s certainly more destructive than say, a boogy eating habit. But much like boogies, your feelings about it change over time and one day you’ll just think, “this is not something i like to do any more”

      I feel you on the scars thing though, my fingers are all dark pink around the nails and joints :’)

  6. I remember when i was i kid i used to cut off the skin under my feet with a sissor because of the dry bits of it that annoyed me… I dont do that anymore even though the urge is big if i dont wear socks. 😐 Now i just eat the skin arround my finger nails or cut it completely.

  7. @Teal_Kitten, @Karin and @ Der Kopfsammler? I’m with you guys. I’ve bitten my nails and skin around them, sometimes excessively, even the skin at times, especially when I’m feeling anxious?The more anxious I feel, the more severe it can get. Sometimes I tear off pieces of my nails and it bleeds quite a lot and hurts for days.
    I doesn’t surprise me that something like this can be taken further. In my case anxiety does it and I would guess it is the same for you as well. But even without the anxiety, I still bite my nails, but not to the extreme as when feeling anxious.
    It is like, once you get a little piece bit off, the next piece can get bit off and so on. Not too deep, but you can keep going with that top layer of skin. Nervous / anxious habit? ? But I do understand you.

    1. Yeah I think it is an anxiety thing though I’ve only been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder relatively recently and I’ve done this more or less my whole life. I do it even when I’m not anxious (that or I’m just always anxious haha)

      I get you about having to keep going and going, it’s like you want to just have a smooth, non-scabby layer of exposed tissue or something

  8. Fingers full of flavor, fill your mouth with what you’ve held,
    Heaping handfuls halt the hunger that you harbor for yourself,

    Bite the hand that feeds you, let the tastes just settle in,
    Shouldn’t care how people see you, that’s the perk of leather skin,

    Share it with world, I mean the meaning, not the act,
    People seldom understand, they try to pick and “chews” the facts,

    As gruesome as the digits look, its no secret to the planet,
    You’re the type to feed the world, because you’re pleasing to the palette

  9. So I’ve been a fairly new BG creeper…about a month or so now, and I LOVE the site! I never really considered getting an account…until just now.
    @teal_kitten, I too suffer from both illnesses (if we shall call them that). I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. My earliest recollection of doing it was about the time of my parents divorce around the age of 6. I also have been a nail biter since then. The skin picking and eating was usually only around my nails as I chewed my nails down to almost nothing, but in the past year I’ve developed Psoriasis. Suffice it to say, the skin eating and picking has kicked into high gear. My fingers, knees, elbows, one ankle bone and the top of my right toes are covered in Psoriasis. This leaves me with what you’d think, to be plenty of picking and eating pleasure. But no. I pick and peel them till they are bleeding. No one knows I do this but my therapist. This is a big step for me to admit to it on here.
    May I offer a little glimmer of hope @teal_kitten? In the last 2 months, I quit biting my nails. They are beautiful and I’m incredibly proud that I did quit. I never thought that I ever would in my lifetime. I am hoping that when the Psoriasis starts to subside someday, I’ll give up the picking and eating of skin too.
    There is hope. And BTW, I’ll be 40 this year, so it may not happen for you anytime soon, but have faith that you may be able to beat it, IF you do choose to. It’s a stress reliever for me to do it, so I completely understand. Sorry for the ramble but I guess I needed to get it off my chest! Best of luck to you girl.

        1. My ex-girlfriend (still a good friend of mine) could/can bite her lips ’til they got swollen. Like really have a go at them.. Could this be considered dermatillomania as well (hypothetically of course)? I really believe it was/is a stress release for her. Thanks for sharing btw, both of you.

          I personally just bite nails and hard skin around them, also have psoriasis btw (but no serious outbreak in a couple years).

  10. @teal_kitten I also bite at my own fingers, and I bite my nails until they bleed, but it isn’t very extreme, and it still hurts even if I bandage it up afterwards. Is this condition painful to you, and if so, how much? I can completely understand satisfying an impulse is as satisfying as scratching an itch, but what about the physical pain? Is it something you ignore, just tough it out, or are you somehow desensitized to it by repetition? I’m genuinely curious.

    1. It’s a combination I think. The skin gets tougher the more it’s replaced/ removed so I definitely have less sensation than say 10 years ago. That said it is painful, there’s no way to avoid it without anesthetic. I kinda like the pain though, as I’m sure many people with depression and anxiety will know, the feeling of clear crisp sensation coupled with the control you feel is enough to warrant the pain :’)

    1. If only that could include cures. They tend to have a hard time naming some of those. Or perhaps the cure to most disease is spoken in a language that majority of the world can’t afford to speak.

  11. I’ve done this all my life. I’m thankful to see other bestgorians have this same disorder. How about the booger eaters of the world? Toe pickers, finger sniffers, butt pickers, scab eaters, blood suckers and other scratch and sniffers of various areas and crevices of their bodies? Guess just about everyone with any of those habits has been doing them as long as I have been peeling and eating my own epidermis. Today alone I used a razor blade to slice the calloused skin away from my fingers and hands and enjoyed a nice snack of the bits. Yeah I know I’m fucking weird.

  12. So I ended up on this site, and to tell you the truth, it’s a relief to put a name to what this is. I’ve been picking and eating my skin as long as i can remember.
    My biggest embarrassments are when I’m sitting an a conference table with coworkers and my bosses, and I have my hands out in the open. I try to hide my thumbs, because the scabs, and rawness of it all is out there for all to see.
    I try to stop by keeping the skin “worn” down by a file or a callus remover stone in the shower.
    But it never seems to help, as soon as the skin grows back enough to get my nail under it, i’m back chewing away.

    1. I get you, dude. It’s a vicious cycle of either extremely thick, itchy skin or no skin at all! I wish it was socially acceptable to wear gloves, Audrey Hepburn style haha

      I’m too much of a scaredy-cat to get up in front of a team in a conference but, for instance, handing over money; buying something in a shop generates a similar outcome… the cashier always notices >.>

  13. I have three fingers that look like that right now. It beats biting my nails, which is what I used to do. Since I quit biting them, I started picking at the skin around them… this is the first time they’ve gotten to this extent, but I am really stressed right now. The skin on your fingers is thick and tough, it looks a lot worse than it is. Just make sure they don’t get infected.

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