Most people are polite enough to say nothing when they notice my hands. My raw and red fingers that sometimes bleed are rightly the cause of curiosity, if not worry. I am grateful that the rules of decency often protect me from having to explain that I have dermatophagia a condition that causes my fingers to chew on my fingers for over 20 years Dermatophagia – literally "eating the skin" – regularly experience the urge to bite into their own skin.
This disease falls into the family of repetitive behavior (BFRB) and is generally accepted as ] related to Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (Other BFRBs that you may know about are trichotillomania or hair loss disorder and excision or dermal pimple disorder.) While some individuals use OCD certain repetitive behaviors also respond to bad feelings such as anxiety – Do you experience dermatophagy, not everyone with dermatophagy has OCD. Sometimes it is a manifestation of stress or anxiety or a habitual reaction to an uncomfortable feeling, a kind of coping mechanism.
Usually, as in my case, this happens on the fingers, but some people bite other parts of their bodies, such as the insides of their cheeks. I've never met anyone who is familiar with him, and I had not even heard of it three years ago when I was hanging around on the internet. Googling symptoms can be misguided (not to say that I'm smoked into long-abandoned reddit threads), but I was confident in my self-diagnosis after seeing the material match my experience. Some people may never receive professional help, others may grow. Last year, I finally contacted a therapist.
I can not remember exactly when or why I started biting, but I was in elementary school. I found solace in practice, though I recognized her somewhat beastly reality. But even as a child socially introverted and shy, I felt further isolated and thought that I was the only one who chewed on her fingers – a belief that only increased my shame. When I discovered online that there are other people in the world, I felt relieved. There is even a nickname for persons with dermatophagy: " Wolf Biters " (a cool obituary that I wish he had been granted for a better reason.)
I was pleased to learn that I was not as alone as I originally thought. With that satisfaction, however, there was a degree of discomfort when I realized that something was missing with me. I now had a real fault, with an official title and everything. Although I had a clinical depression since middle school, though depression was stigmatized, but at least people could wrap their heads. Dermatophagia was something completely different. Desperation gets no secondary eye, as if one would eat one's own flesh.
Many people understand nail-biting, and when people catch me chewing in public, they often think I'm biting my fingernails. I appreciate it when I can mix and appear normal. Because nail biting is just a nervous scream. Harmless; acceptable. A bad habit maybe, but ultimately forgivable. Dermatophagia, on the other hand, is just … funny .
Small things, such as reaching out to switch from the cashier, typing on a keyboard, taking piano lessons, or using my hands class when I was a teacher, all made me anxious because my faulty fingers were in front and in the back Middle are.
"What happened to your fingers?" One of my students asked one day. At eight, she had not mastered the art of discretion yet. Embarrassed, I looked down at my hands, instinctively curling them into fists, thumbs stuck, as I often did, when I left my vigilance behind and saw. "Do you know how some people bite their nails?" I replied. She nodded. "Well," I went on, "I sometimes bite my skin." Apparently she was satisfied with this short answer and went back to her seat.
In the extremely limited dating life that I had prior to meeting my husband, I spent some of that time out of fear that a guy noticed my fingers and asked (well, had an 8-year-old). I was always grateful for dimly lit places and long-sleeved sweaters that I could pull down to give me the necessary camouflage. When a man tried to hold his hands, I flinched, hoping he would only feel the parts that were soft and supple and secure. I have always had the usual uncertainties that many women have about their bodies (small breasts, unruly hair, imperfect skin), but then I also had this unusual mental health problem. As you can imagine, this has worked wonders for my self-esteem.
I know that it drives people out, but in the end, I want people to understand that it's not easy to get this disorder under control.
I've tried to stop it a few times over the years. Normally, I can walk for a while, without biting, and heal myself a little. But I return to my nibbling. Normally, I have reached a point where I simply can not overcome the temptation. I tell myself it's not that bad, I do.
Some days are better than others. I've noticed – and this is common among sufferers – that stress situations make my dermatophagia worse. Whether it's an upcoming deadline or an uncomfortable conversation, I choose and bite. Many people have comfort food; unfortunately, my chance is my own skin.
I've been trying to get manicures, put on disgusting tastes like nail polish remover or even my own earwax on the offending limbs, join my fingertips and other creative "remedies". He was successful in the long term with one of these methods. In addition to these provisional solutions, not even hurtful utterances of others, my vanity, or the ubiquitous possibility of infection through my open wounds, were enough to make me persist.
Still, I am definitely better off than I used to be: nowadays I try to pay attention to when I want to bite, and then find a distraction from it. Stress Relief Also Helps . I was able to bite for five weeks without my longest time I ever had when I was breaking down stress. This month I also joined a Facebook group for other persons with BFRB to find support and clarity for this frustrating error.
My dermatophagia is both a cause and a by-product of shame and stress – a cycle in which I've been stuck for over two decades. I can stop myself for a while, but it is a big challenge and I will have to work on it every day.