The Scary Disorder That Makes You Eat Yourself: Dermatophagia

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This illness, which is pretty common, is actually a psychological disorder. When you think about it, you know many people around you who eat their nail skins. Though it is common to see lots of people do it in public, it hasn't had much research done in the medical field. Let's take a closer look at what this disorder is.

Dermatophagia means 'skin eating' in Ancient Greek

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People who have this disorders tend to eat the skin around the nails and swallow it. There may be ones who don't swallow.

All of a sudden, the skin around your nails start to bleed.

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Dermatophagia sufferers chew their skin out of compulsion, and can do so on a variety of places on their body.[5] Sufferers typically chew the skin surrounding their fingernails and joints. They also chew on the inside of their mouth, cheeks, and/or lips, causing blisters in and outside of the mouth. If the behavior is left unchecked for an extended period, calluses may start to develop where most of the biting is done.

Contemporary research suggests a link between impulse control disorders and obsessive–compulsive disorders

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Skin chewing can be bolstered by times of apprehension and other unpleasant events. Blisters in particular can cause a feeling of desire to pull or bite off the affected skin (since the skin is dead, thus easily pulled off), which could be detrimental, causing infection. Another disorder, known as dermatillomania, the act of picking at one's skin, can sometimes accompany dermatophagia. People who suffer from dermatophagia can also be prone to infection as when they bite their fingers so frequently, they make themselves vulnerable to bacteria seeping in and causing infection.

"As with hair pulling and skin picking, nail biting isn't a disorder unless it is impairing, distressing, and meets a certain clinical level of severity," says Carol Mathews , M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of California

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"They have bitten so much that they are getting infections," Mathews says. "There is physical damage that is impairing their ability to use their hands."

Okay, let's say your case doesn't quite warrant an OCD label: That doesn't mean you get a free, all-you-can-bite pass. It's still gross. Plus, it's unhealthy.

People, like wolves, that are under stress, eat their own skin.

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When wolves get caught in cages, they will sometimes eat their skin under stress. For this reason, people with this disorder are colloquially called ''wolf-biters.''

After such repetitive action over months, the involved skin eventually becomes thick, callous like, and lichenified with loss or exaggeration of the normal skin markings or creases.

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The reason for this is because the body reacts to skin loss and wounds.

Father-son psychosomatic dermatologists Michael Scott Jr and Michael Scott say that

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"It can sometimes get so bad that it's painful. We have some people who have done it for 20 years, they just keep at their life—it's not disfiguring most of the time."

Hair pulling and skin picking, nail biting used to be in the category of OCD.

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These disorders were examined under ''pathological care problems'' in 2013. Dr. Nilah Sah from Mount Kisco Medical Group, New York said it was hopeful that these disorders were examined outside OCD and they could ask for funds to do research on the matter.

According to Carol Mattews, psychologist in University of California;

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorders really include behavior that people don't want. Disorders like eating the nail skin makes people feel good and it's a rewarding act for them. For this reason, seeing it as an OCD is a wrong evaluation.

The reason for this disorder is not yet known.

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It was observed that people don't just do it under stress, but also at regular times. For this reason, a definite reason cannot be given.

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