Dermatophagia (chewing fingers)

Maybe this isn’t a common addiction, but it’s something I’ve been struggling with for a long time. As a kid I used to bite my fingernails, but as I got over it I seemed to move to something else. I bite and chew the skin on my fingers, and sometimes it can lead to bleeding. I just can’t help myself. I don’t know how to stop, but maybe I can start healing once I tell people. If anyone thinks of something I can do to help with my urges, I would really appreciate it!


I have been picking the skin on my fingera since i was 5years old. I am now 31. It has gotten better over the years but I am a alcohlic who is 33 days sober and i have been picking some. My therapist told me it was just anxiety coming out. So since i was using drugs and alcohol to help anxiety, which only makes anxiety worse i was pick really bad at time. My thumbs are mostly scar tissue. But as i am continuing with sobriety my anxiety is going down and i am trying to make a mental focus on not picking by keeping hands busy and controling my anxiety. I cant quite quit picking but at least I have booze out of my life​:laughing::laughing::laughing:

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Maybe do what I had to do to stop touching my face so I wouldn’t get sick. I had to put big red xs on the back of both hands. Everytime I would reach to touch my face, I would catch the red x and it told me no. Put big red xs on your fingertips so everytime you bring your hand up to your mouth your eyes catch the color and it stops you and distracts you.

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Fingernail polish remover is the worst tasting stuff ever and it stays on there even when it’s dried maybe try that… not if you have a sore though cause with will burn… maybe that will help…

Do you have have any other addictions or anxiety issues?

I don’t like the idea of putting anything on the damaged skin, but maybe I could use that to protect the fingers that have healed somewhat. It should work, since that’s how I stopped biting my fingernails.

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I sincerely hope we can both at least lessen the picking! I’ll be rooting for you.

Now that I think of it, I feel like I chewed my fingers less when I wore nail polish. I didn’t want to leave teeth marks on it. Maybe I should start wearing it more?

I have anxiety and mild OCD. Do you think those could cause this?


Yes. That is my problem at least.

I’m no doctor, but wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

I had a major problem with chewing my fingers as an anxious child and young adult. Any situation that made me nervous let to picking and biting my nails and cuticles to the point of calluses and bleeding.

As I got older, more confident, I had good control over it.

Just this past summer, during my drinking career, I was assistant coach for my son’s 5-8 year old baseball team. There was 20 of them, so that was rough keeping them in line without blowing my top, and the anxiety of the games caused me to severely pick at 3 fingers and both my thumbs down to the first knuckle.

After the season, during the day when I wouldn’t drink and go through withdrawal symptoms, I would keep picking and biting them.

Since I’ve quit drinking, I’ve got the situation back under control and my fingers look almost normal again.

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