Dermatophagia is a psychological condition where a person compulsively bites, chews, gnaws, or eats their skin. It often influences the skin around people’s fingers. This activity can either be conscious or unconscious.
Those affected with Dermatophagia usually bite the skin around the nails, leading to bleeding and discolouration over time. A few people also bite on their skin on their finger knuckles which can lead to suffering and bleeding just by moving their fingers.
1. What are the Signs of Dermatophagia?
Below mentioned are some of the hints that will disclose to you whether your loved one is suffering from Dermatophagia or not.
Skin Discoloration: An individual may feel that he or she chews the nails or skin only during unpleasant circumstances, but in reality, this may have become a habit, and the person might be doing it subconsciously. A person with Dermatophagia will have discoloured nails and so keep a watch for discoloured nails due to habitual biting.
Skin Damage: An individual with Dermatophagia will have indications of significant skin harm in and around the nails with excessive scarring around it. It is noteworthy here to see if the patient does it on purpose to relieve nervousness or does it suppressed without even noting about it.
Bleeding: Dermatophagia sufferers will have indications of frequent bleeding from the skin. If it is fair a one-off case, then it is fine, but when it becomes routine, it is a root of concern and may propose Dermatophagia.
Calluses: Dermatophagia patients will also have indications of calluses forming around the region where the patient bites the skin or nails. The fingernails will also look disfigured. This is a severe cause of concern as this may predispose the patient to infections or lasting harm to the skin.
2. What Causes Dermatophagia?
As stated, Dermatophagia has been connected to be a form of OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a mental condition wherein an individual starts having obsessive thoughts like washing the hands for fear of microbes entering the body and does it repeatedly causing more harm than good.
In Dermatophagia, the patient senses relief after biting and gnaw the skin for some before he or she gets worried again and starts to bite and chew the skin too. In certain studies, Dermatophagia has been expressed to have a genetic connection to it.
As it has been noted that numerous individuals with this condition tend to have family members with a similar disorder. Some of the other causes that may affect the outcome in Dermatophagia are a traumatic childhood, outrageous.
3. What are the Risk Factors for Dermatophagia?
Having a close family member with a body-focused repetitive behaviour (BFRB) increases the probability of developing one. Having attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD may also predispose individuals to develop a BFRB, such as Dermatophagia.
Reducing Your Risk of Dermatophagia
Because researchers don’t completely understand how BFRBs develop, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them. If you are concerned about behaviour or your risk of a BFRB, talk with your doctor about it. Find out when and how to look for help.
4. How to Stop Dermatophagia
You may not see a change overnight; however, with a little time and effort, you can bust your nail-gnawing habit. Try these below tips.
Cut them short. If there’s not sufficient nail to grab with your denticle, it won’t feel as fulfilling when you give biting a try.
Coat them with a sour taste. There are unique nail polishes with an unpleasant flavour you can paint on your nails. The horrible taste will make you think twice before chewing.
Splurge on manicures. Investing money and time at a nail salon will give you both attractive nails and a reason to keep them that way.
Wear gloves. If you can’t get to your fingernails, you can’t chew them. If gloves don’t work for your everyday schedule, you can search for stickers made to cover nails — they can have a similar impact.
Find your triggers. Notice how you see or what you’re doing when you bite your nails. Once you know what kicks you into the nail-biting drive, you can try to find other ways to cope.
Kit fiddle with — a pressure ball, a worry stone, or a pen to clink. Bite gum, so your mouth has a work. Give your nail-gnawing energy somewhere else to go.
If you still struggle after trying numerous techniques, converse to your doctor about whether therapy’s an excellent option to assist you in getting to the lower part of the issue and take nail biting out of the picture.
5. How is Dermatophagia Treated?
Patients with Dermatophagia need psychological treatments to get rid of this condition. Some of the ways that the psychologists use to get rid of Dermatophagia are:
a. Behaviour Modification Therapy
In this type of treatment, the psychologist prescribes to polish the fingernail with something which has a smell which is not pleasant to the nose. This may go a far way to avoid chronic biting of the nails. Artificial nails are also suggested which are made of acrylic or gel because of which the patient will start to keep away gnawing and to bite the nails and skin.
b. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In this sort of treatment, the patient is encouraged to discuss his or her cause. In this way, it is a trust that the sufferer can get rid of any dysfunctional feelings or behaviours that may be leading the patient to bite the nails and chew the skin. In this form of treatment, objectives are set, and the doctor and the patient both work together to help reach the goal.
c. Medical Treatment for Dermatophagia
medications can also treat Dermatophagia. Antidepressants are the most well-known form of drugs used to treat Dermatophagia. It is main to note here that antidepressants are only to be utilized under the psychological wellness expert’s guidance and should not be abused or misused in the name of Dermatophagia.