Dermatophagia FAQ's

March 24, 2017

Dermatophagia definition: 


Dermatophagia is derived from 2 greek words i.e. derma means skin and phagia means eating. Official definition of dermatophagia is “ it is a compulsion disorder, in which patient gnaw or eat his own skin, commonly fingers are involved.” it is an anxiety disorder, in which patient eat his skin during thinking. Patient start eating his skin around nails and joints of fingers and skin of cheeks from inside mouth. Lip biting and chewing is another form of dermatophagia. Sometimes excessive biting leads to bleeding and discoloration of skin. Skin turns red at biting site and sometimes blisters are formed. 

Is Dermatophagia a mental disorder: 


Dermatophagia is counted an anxiety disorder. It is said so, because patient bite or chew his skin when he is anxious and facing a problem in life. When patient thinks deeply, he unintentionally start biting his fingers and chew them or bite his skin in mouth and skin on lips. This is uncontrollable and patient find it hard to stop biting. Patient have a pleasure feeling while eating his skin. Behavioral therapies and habit changing therapies help in reducing this disorder. It is a mental disorder, that's why antidepressants are used to suppress mind functionality, which in turn relaxes patients mind and stop dermatophagia. 

Dermatophagia knuckles: 


Patient with dermatophagia may have discolored skin around nails and knuckles. Because excessive biting leads to discoloration of skin and swelling. Patient may bite continuously his fingers and knuckles that blood comes out of skin leading to infection. The skin become red around knuckles which clearly show presence of dermatophagia. People with this disorder, start from skin around nails and gradually start biting knuckles of every finger one by one. If bleeding occurs in 1 finger, then patient uncontrollably start biting another finger. As a result, fingers got discolored skin at knuckles. 

Types of dermatophagia: 


Dermatophagia disorder is divided into 3 main types according to behavior of patient. There are three types of people having dermatophagia. Type 1 involve those people who eat or chew their nails and skin around them. These patients bite off their nails and skin with them. But not let blood comes out. Type 2 involve patients who eat their skin only and do not bite off their nails. Skin discoloration may occur in this type of people but bleeding is rare. In type 3 people with dermatophagia have bleeding fingers and knuckles. Bleeding occurs due to excessive biting and blister formation on biting site. 

How to heal skin from dermatophagia: 


Dermatophagia causes people to bite and chew their skin which in turn leads to scarring or cuts on biting site. From these cuts blood ooze out. So first aid is required on urgent note. Blood is cleared with an antiseptic and bandage is applied on these cuts. This bandage also helps to stop patient from biting their skin. These cuts will recover in almost 1 week and bandage is removed for natural healing process. But some patient do not wait for complete healing and start biting that site again. Which may make it worse.