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6 yr old boy picks his fingers until they bleed.
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6 yr old boy picks his fingers until they bleed.

Our 6 yr old biy, soon to be 7, sometimes returns from school and sporting activities with several of his finger tips picked to a point that a layer of skin is almost off and in some circumstances, they begin to bleed.
This dosent happen every day, but recently, more than not.
We struggle with this, but do not want to embarass our son.
We have thought of him wearing gloves or band-aids, but he picks off the band-aids..
We ask him why, and he says he dosent know and gets all upset and begins to cry........This tears our heart in two, as we love all our childern, we just dont know how to help him.
We struggle for some feedback, we have heard of hair pulling becoming compulsive, but never finger picking ...
Looking forward to your thoughts.
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Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gill,

Yes, biting fingers can be a compulsive behavior, much as hair pulling can be. If you don't notice this behavior at home, it's probably the result of your son's anxiety around the situations you mentioned.

Keeping his nails cut short can be beneficial, because this makes it less likely he'll be able to actually grasp the nail and tear it (sometimes causing bleeding).

It would be helpful to check with his teacher and sports coaches/instructors and learn what they are observing about your son's participation and activity in the school and sports settings. Does he appear to be anxious? Do they notice the finger biting? In what specific contexts does it occur? How well is your son interacting with the other children?

You might try adopting an incentive program, whereby you reward your son from (as much as you can tell) refraining from biting (or at least injuring) his fingers. This approach, of course, doesn't alter the underlying anxiety that promotes the biting in the first place. It might be worthwhile to consult with a mental health professional re: the anxiety, to learn more about its nature and degree of severity. Then you'll be able to determine if a course of therapy, relaxation training, biofeedback, etc. might be useful.
10 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Yes, I would say that finger-picking can be compulsive.  I've been doing it myself since I was very young, and in fact I was doing so when I was reading your note.  It's usually around the edges of the fingernails (which I also used to tear at the same time), and even to this day I will sometimes draw a little blood (I'm 30). I've found it a hard habit to break, although admittedly I haven't tried really hard.  The best that I can suggest is that, once the boy is old enough, teach him how to clip his fingernails, then let him have a fingernail clipper to carry around with him.  That is partially how I broke myself of tearing my fingernails.  It might not be the best idea, but it has worked some for me.  If I remember correctly, though, once I started seeing how much tearing the skin hurt, I didn't do it AS MUCH, although I still find myself doing it from time to time.

As for why I do it, I really haven't the slightest idea.

Good luck, and God bless.
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Avatar_n_tn
At last I find something similar to what I have been experiencing...this is great but I would very much appreciate knowing what the name of the disorder, disfunction or whatever it is, is called so I can do further searching...I tried using my limited knowledge of greek/latin and thought of "digitphagia" but it did not really find anything...

My "finger peeling" problem is pretty recent, I am 32, but I cannot remember when exactly it became a problem.  I must have peeled my fingers at other times in my life, but I never got "hooked" on it.  I do not necessarily go to the extreme of blood, although sometimes the tearing does come to a point of pain and blood at which point I stop.  

I do it when I am anxious yes, but also when enjoying a particulary good intense movie, when I am reading the want ads looking for a job (so the anxiety there is pretty obvious) and in general when in a nervous/excited mood.  

The problem I have is that the tearing has made the skin around
the tips of my fingers tougher so when the skin has almost rejuvenated itself and there are no more ledges to pick (this is what sets my thumb subconsciously at picking at a tear) an open dry skin bubble will tease me to want to tear it and the process starts again.  

I differentiate between two types of tearing, the "subconscious" tearing as I mentioned above and the "conscious" one where I actually "like, take pleasure in, enjoy" the tearing activity in the same manner, excuse the crudeness, that some people, like the act of popping a pimple.  

Why exactly I feel pleasure, I have no clue, seems of a more innate nature than anything so I am not even bothering with it.
What did seem to work at times was quite a different approach to the nail cutting, I do the opposite, it seems that if my nails have thick nail polish on them I am less prone to tearing my fingers.  But the nail polish cannot be chipped or else I will start peeling that too! But better to peel that than your fingers.!!

If anyone can make any comments to this or would have some suggestions on how to stop, or give me a name of what this is, whether a obsessive cumpulsive disorder or more of a psychological one due to stress?? Is this one of those self damaging conditions?
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Avatar_n_tn
At last I find something similar to what I have been experiencing...this is great but I would very much appreciate knowing what the name of the disorder, disfunction or whatever it is, is called so I can do further searching...I tried using my limited knowledge of greek/latin and thought of "digitphagia" but it did not really find anything...

My "finger peeling" problem is pretty recent, I am 32, but I cannot remember when exactly it became a problem.  I must have peeled my fingers at other times in my life, but I never got "hooked" on it.  I do not necessarily go to the extreme of blood, although sometimes the tearing does come to a point of pain and blood at which point I stop.  

I do it when I am anxious yes, but also when enjoying a particulary good intense movie, when I am reading the want ads looking for a job (so the anxiety there is pretty obvious) and in general when in a nervous/excited mood.  

The problem I have is that the tearing has made the skin around
the tips of my fingers tougher so when the skin has almost rejuvenated itself and there are no more ledges to pick (this is what sets my thumb subconsciously at picking at a tear) an open dry skin bubble will tease me to want to tear it and the process starts again.  

I differentiate between two types of tearing, the "subconscious" tearing as I mentioned above and the "conscious" one where I actually "like, take pleasure in, enjoy" the tearing activity in the same manner, excuse the crudeness, that some people, like the act of popping a pimple.  

Why exactly I feel pleasure, I have no clue, seems of a more innate nature than anything so I am not even bothering with it.
What did seem to work at times was quite a different approach to the nail cutting, I do the opposite, it seems that if my nails have thick nail polish on them I am less prone to tearing my fingers.  But the nail polish cannot be chipped or else I will start peeling that too! But better to peel that than your fingers.!!

If anyone can make any comments to this or would have some suggestions on how to stop, or give me a name of what this is, whether a obsessive cumpulsive disorder or more of a psychological one due to stress?? Is this one of those self damaging conditions?  Thank you
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Avatar_n_tn
At last I find something similar to what I have been experiencing...this is great but I would very much appreciate knowing what the name of the disorder, disfunction or whatever it is, is called so I can do further searching...I tried using my limited knowledge of greek/latin and thought of "digitphagia" but it did not really find anything...

My "finger peeling" problem is pretty recent, I am 32, but I cannot remember when exactly it became a problem.  I must have peeled my fingers at other times in my life, but I never got "hooked" on it.  I do not necessarily go to the extreme of blood, although sometimes the tearing does come to a point of pain and blood at which point I stop.  

I do it when I am anxious yes, but also when enjoying a particulary good intense movie, when I am reading the want ads looking for a job (so the anxiety there is pretty obvious) and in general when in a nervous/excited mood.  

The problem I have is that the tearing has made the skin around
the tips of my fingers tougher so when the skin has almost rejuvenated itself and there are no more ledges to pick (this is what sets my thumb subconsciously at picking at a tear) an open dry skin bubble will tease me to want to tear it and the process starts again.  

I differentiate between two types of tearing, the "subconscious" tearing as I mentioned above and the "conscious" one where I actually "like, take pleasure in, enjoy" the tearing activity in the same manner, excuse the crudeness, that some people, like the act of popping a pimple.  

Why exactly I feel pleasure, I have no clue, seems of a more innate nature than anything so I am not even bothering with it.
What did seem to work at times was quite a different approach to the nail cutting, I do the opposite, it seems that if my nails have thick nail polish on them I am less prone to tearing my fingers.  But the nail polish cannot be chipped or else I will start peeling that too! But better to peel that than your fingers.!!

If anyone can make any comments to this or would have some suggestions on how to stop, or give me a name of what this is, whether a obsessive cumpulsive disorder or more of a psychological one due to stress?? Is this one of those self damaging conditions?  Thank you
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Avatar_n_tn
As the rest of you, I have a similar problem.  Instead of picking at my fingers, I tend to bite them.  The nails as well as the skin around them.  This often leads to bleeding and has become a problem.  I have been doing this since I was a child and have not found any way to stop this obsessive habit.  If anybody has a solution to stop this, please let the me know. (as well as the other people who have posted comments on this site)
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Avatar_n_tn
So ... there are others who suffer from this problem, too. I thought I was alone.

I am an adult male, 54 years old. I pick at the skin around the edges of my fingernails and down the sides of my fingers, pulling it off in strips and often drawing blood. I then continue to worry at the wound until it grows into a bigger and bigger raw patch which 'migrates' down the side of my finger/thumb. Frequently I am picking at several fingers at once. I have no idea why I do this. I try to stop but then find myself doing it subconsciously (when driving, reading, watching TV, etc.) About the only time I don't do it subconsciously is when I am engaged in a physical activity like brisk walking.

I didn't do it as a child, and I really cannot remember when it started.

I have tried to stop, time and time again. But, another problem is that, as the wound heals it leaves a hard scaly patch which I find myself picking at again. I sort of hope that I can pull off the hard scales and leave smooth skin underneath. It never works.

Sometimes I can go for weeks without picking and my fingers heal. Then, without warning, I find myself doing it again. I am embarrassed by the appearance of my fingers when the picking has been bad, but this still doesn't seem to be strong enough motivation to prevent me doing it. I get a sort of perverse pleasure out of the process. Don't ask me why.

It's a horrible affliction and, the worst part is that I have no explanation as to why I do it.

Is this a recognised medical or psychological condition? Has it got a name?

If there's anyone out there who can help, or who suffers like I do and would like to talk about it I can be e-mailed at:

***@****
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had the same problem since I was a child. I had a wonderful, happy childhood, so I do not attribute it to any underlying emotional problems or depression. It is just an aggravating and embarring habit. I find myself biting when I am nervous or when excited. I hate the way my fingers look and try to hide them. I do not bite my nails. They usually look nice, but the skin around them is often torn and red.

The worse part of this is, I am afraid I have passed this habit on to my 8 year old. She bites her fingers when she is watching TV or when she is nervous about something.

I truly hope someone has an answer. This is a habit I have lived with for far too long.
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Avatar_n_tn
Thank goodness I found someone else who does this. I am 27 and I have been peeling my skin from my fingers since I was little. I have mangled them so much that where the skin is all around my fingers is pink and will never grow back right. I do it until they bleed I don't know why I have always been nervous and I am so embarred to have people see my fingers. I am married to a great husband and have 3 little girls and I am so happy but I get so nervous for no reson and I think your son probley does the same thing and maybe you can find the problem that is making him nervous and help him.
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A related discussion, I think I found something was started.
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A related discussion, Finger Biting/Picking was started.
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A related discussion, Finger/Skin Biting Disease Name: Dermatophagia was started.
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A related discussion, dermatophagia was started.
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