What is Dermatophagia? »PeopleWhat

Many people bite their nails or chew on a devil's toenail, but if one continues to bite the skin, nails or flesh of their involuntary fingers, it may be dermatophagia. Dermatophagia is a condition known as body-oriented repetitive behavior (BFRB). In other words, it is a psychological condition in which a person necessarily bites, chews, gnaws or eats his skin. It usually affects the skin around people's fingers. It goes beyond nail biting or occasionally chewing on the finger, it is also a discomfort, not a habit or tic. This is a concept emerging in mental health research. Therefore, few studies have been conducted on exactly what is happening and how it differs from other conditions.
According to mental health experts, sometimes dermatophagia is classified as a compulsive and related disorder. This means that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is related or part of it. On this condition, a person has continuous, uncontrollable, repetitive thoughts and behaviors. People with this condition eat and eat their skin and leave it bloody, damaged and in some cases infected. Necessity affects hands most often, such as cuticles and fingers. However, it can also occur in other parts of the body.


A person with dermatophagia necessarily bites, gnaws or eats his skin. This could make their skin raw. This damage to the skin can also increase the risk of developing a skin infection. Some experts think this is a body-oriented repetitive behavior. Other similar behaviors are as follows:
• Itching or pulling the skin
• Eating nail (onikfaji)
• Sheet metal (Trichotillomania)
• Cheek bite
• Chronic tongue chewing
• Eating hair (Trichophagia)
• Chronic lip bite
According to research from 2015, a person with an obsessive-compulsive and related disorder may experience shame. This feeling may be caused by a diminishing sign around mental health problems or may be specific to a person's symptoms. Some of the other symptoms of dermatophagia are:
• Usually repeatedly eating and gnawing the skin
• Having red, raw skin in the affected area
• Bleeding in the affected area
• Scarring, callus or discoloration if there is damage
• If it seriously affects their behavior or interferes with daily life


It is not clear why some people develop dermatophagia. This may have a role in both genetic and social factors. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with OCD are more likely to have family members with OCD. It is not clear whether this is genetic or not from the learned behaviors or a combination of these factors. It is not clear whether the factors that affect whether an individual develops OCD have the same role in people with dermatophagia.

Risk Factors and Related Conditions

BFRBs are more common in women than in men. Other variables include risk for dermatophagia and other BFRBs:
• Personality and temperament
• Environment
• Age (BFRB symptoms usually begin during puberty)
• Stress levels
Dermatophagia may not often be the cause of major medical complications, but in some cases can significantly affect physical and mental health. Some complications are as follows:


The most important physical complication of dermatophagia is infection. When the skin remains raw and open to bite, bacteria can enter the body from the wound. Wounds should be closed to reduce the possibility of infection. Symptoms of a skin infection are:
• Heat or swelling in the affected area
• A pus-flowing wound
• Pain or tenderness
• Fever or chills

Social Isolation

In some cases, dermatophagia it may cause people to be ashamed of their behavior and withdraw from social interactions. This embarrassment can lead to low self-confidence and depression.


Since dermatophahi is a fairly new concept in mental health research, a doctor may not necessarily be able to make a definitive diagnosis. It is also more likely to diagnose or classify it in another relevant case, such as OCD. The diagnosis of OCD is complex and the doctor can only diagnose in some cases. These can be listed as follows:
• The person's thoughts, behaviors are chronic in a continuous and uncontrollable way
• Dermatophagia causes stress or significantly prevents the life of the person
• There are no other health conditions.
• Dermatophagia is not related to any other type of mental health condition
The doctor asks questions about the person's symptoms, general mood and medical history. Dermatophagia and other similar BFRBs are not included in the Fifth Edition (DSM-5), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Instead, they are under other specified obsessive-compulsive and related disorders. To be classified as BFRB, behavior should affect the ability to cause serious self-harm, cause damage, and work on a daily basis. Although most cases are undiagnosed, approximately 3 percent of the population is estimated to be BFRB. Severity can vary greatly. BFRBs are not considered a form of self-avoidance such as hacking. People with BFRB often behave to relieve stress or to enjoy movement, rather than intentionally harming themselves. Although BFRBs cause bodily damage, they are undesirable. If a person sees any signs of infection due to skin bite, seek medical attention.


Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful in the treatment of dermatophagia. The treatment prescribed by the doctor depends on the suspected causes of this condition and, if the person thinks that he has some form of OCD, he may suggest behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be an effective way to treat OCD and related conditions. However, the doctor may think that dermatophagia can be explained by something other than OCD. This may also suggest a different treatment plan. Long-term treatment will depend on what causes dermatophagia and how well the treatment methods work. CBT may give an individual the ability to reduce their symptoms or need medication to control the condition. If another underlying mental health condition is causing it, the doctor first aims to treat it. There are several treatment methods available when the behavior is beyond the control of the person. Some of these treatment methods are as follows:


Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be effective in the treatment of BFRBs, such as dermatophagia. This type of therapy focuses on thoughts, behaviors, and attempts to regulate behavioral responses . Habit reversal training (HRT) can also be used and includes HRT, awareness training, competitor response training, and social support.


There are no drugs specifically approved for the treatment of BFRBs, but some drugs help reduce symptoms and accompany them. who can help treat problems like anxiety, depression. Some medications that the doctor may recommend include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and clomipramine (Anafranil).

Natural Therapies

A wide range of holistic treatments and lifestyle changes that can help reduce the symptoms of dermatophagia. These treatments and lifestyle changes are as follows:
• Massage
• Acupuncture
• Hypnosis
• Stress-reducing activities such as exercise, breathing exercises and other healthy lifestyle options
• Instead of bite the skin chewing gum-like foods

Skin Treatment

To treat skin damaged by dermatophagia, the area should be covered with bandage until cleansed and healed. In some cases, antibiotics may be required to treat or prevent infection in the affected areas.


Since dermatophagia is a concept emerging in mental health research, a person's point of view will depend on what the doctor thinks of the key causes. If a person is suspected of dermatophagia, he or she should consult a medical professional as soon as possible. In any case, the medical professional will help in the best way to help the individual solve the cause of the dermatophagia and treat the condition. The sooner this problem is diagnosed, the sooner the most effective strategies to help manage behavior can be found.

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