Some people engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin. Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism, but sucking blood from wounds is generally not considered cannibalism. Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism.
Sometimes, a person may pick at their skin and not even notice they’re doing it, or they may pick for any of the following reasons:
# as a coping mechanism to deal with anxiety, anger, or sadness
# as a response to serious episodes of stress or tension
# from boredom or habit
# because of a family history of the condition
Sometimes a person may feel relief when they pick and eat their scabs. However, these feelings are often followed by shame and guilt.
While it's normal for some children, for an adult here is most likely a mental health issue or a nutritional deficiency resulting in Pica. Still, there are a few people who just like the taste.
Picking and eating scabs can affect a person physically and emotionally. Some people pick at their skin because of feelings of anxiety and depression, or this habit may lead them to experience these feelings. It can also cause scarring.
Scab picking is a form of excoriation, just as picking at the skin is. When picking scabs, however, the picker will pick at scabs that have been caused from any trauma.
Picking scabs is a self-perpetuating way to act out obsessive-compulsive tendencies that often signal an underlying, often an as yet undiagnosed mood or anxiety disorder. Patients often describe the experience as comforting even though painful.
A common symptom of scab picking is eating the scabs after picking which can be hard to spot by and observer because the picker knows it's unsightly and repulsive to others. Hence, picking is usually limited to areas that are hidden under clothing.
Repeated infections at the scab picking sites become problems that can have significant consequences and permanent scarring is almost always a result. Many people who scab pick know they are doing something that is considered disgusting, but they find it almost impossible to stop nevertheless.
Habitual scab picking is classified in the group of psychological disorders associated with self-harm, such as deliberate skin cutting, head banging, and burning oneself.
These actions are more often associated with girls than with boys and scab picking often starts when the subject is age 13 or 14.
Psychological symptoms often associated with picking scabs are depression, low self-esteem, addiction, eating disorders, and anxiety. A history of trauma or some sort of abuse is almost always involved.
Often the habit gets started as a way to relieve the pent-up frustrations or fears when other ways of dealing with conflict are not effective. Feeling that verbal communications are ineffective leave the scab picker feeling there is no other way to express the emotional turmoil going on inside. When the picking of scabs brings on emotional relief, desired pain, or pleasure that medical intervention is advised.
Sometimes, a person may pick at their skin and not even notice they’re doing it.