zazuk2010

Biting Fingers Till Bleeding

15 posts in this topic

Hi,

 

My ds5 1/2 can't stop biting his nails (what is left of them now) or his fingers. He does not mind when I remind him to stop, but if I turn around for even a few seconds, the fingers are back in his mouth. I know this is all a reaction to the constant anxiety he feels (of course we are woking on that). His fingers are all swollen and his thumb has almost no skin left.

 

I am worried about infection of his fingers as well as the fact that every germ he touches ends up inside his body.

 

His fingers hurt too (although that does not stop the biting). Sometimes he is afriad to wash his hands for fear that they will burn.

 

We live in California and when we recently went east to see Dr. T his fingers acctually got a little better because he was wearing gloves throughout the day. Back home now and fingers bleeding again. Don't think it is realistic to have him wear gloves here not to mention that he won't want to wear them at school calling attention to his hands and having to answer questions about it all.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Kari

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I know this is all a reaction to the constant anxiety he feels

 

 

kari - are you sure it's the anxiety or is it some physical manifestation? or both?

 

last year, my son would suck and chew on his shirts and jackets - so much so that they'd be soaking. he had a bad mouth rash that the drs said was from licking his lips. i don't know what was causing it but it wasn't just licking lips.

 

recently with an exacerbation, he again was chewing shirts although not as bad. he was also putting his whole fingers in his mouth. for him, i do think it can become an anxious habit but i think it is caused by something else. and it does seem to go away when he is doing better.

 

have you tried that nail biting stuff? i was going to try that last year but never did. people also say hot pepper sauce but i think that'd cause more trouble than good!

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Hi,

 

My ds5 1/2 can't stop biting his nails (what is left of them now) or his fingers. He does not mind when I remind him to stop, but if I turn around for even a few seconds, the fingers are back in his mouth. I know this is all a reaction to the constant anxiety he feels (of course we are woking on that). His fingers are all swollen and his thumb has almost no skin left.

 

I am worried about infection of his fingers as well as the fact that every germ he touches ends up inside his body.

 

His fingers hurt too (although that does not stop the biting). Sometimes he is afriad to wash his hands for fear that they will burn.

 

We live in California and when we recently went east to see Dr. T his fingers acctually got a little better because he was wearing gloves throughout the day. Back home now and fingers bleeding again. Don't think it is realistic to have him wear gloves here not to mention that he won't want to wear them at school calling attention to his hands and having to answer questions about it all.

 

Any suggestions?

 

Kari

 

Hi Kari,

I am just wondering how long this has been going on and if it relates to a new exaccerbation. My daughter started biting nails/fingers at age 7 (2 years prior to dx of PANDAS). We tried everything with no result. It was so bad that I was concerned she would permenantly damage the nail beds. However, she has recently stopped since T&A surgery and high dose Augmentin early January. We now make sure nails are kept neat so nothing irritates her enough to start again. Is your son still on full dose abx or prophalxis? Perhaps upping the dose or changing abx may bring some relief. Good luck.

Joanne

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Hi,

Just a note that might be of interest. Our pediatrician (good Pandas doc, very tuned in to it all) sponsored a talk on general health and nutrition by a great Naturopath last week, and one thing he said stuck with me and reminds me of your kids's nail biting/sucking issues.

 

He was talking about the importance of minerals in our diets, and how when animals are mineral defficient, they "crib." That is to say, they bite everything around them, even other animals. In this case it was cows he was talking about, and then he talked about pica in pregnant women, which is a mineral deficiency.

 

I know that the symptoms you're talking about are from the Pandas, etc. But it might be worth trying to up the minerals, especially selenium. Let us know if it works! Shouldn't take long to see.

 

Good luck!

 

Allison

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First Kathy, you are right it may be something besides anxiety causing him to do this, perhaps it is more like a tic. He started doing it about a month after IVIG. His rages were gone, but then he had anxiety we had never seen before. The finger/nail biting happens mostly when he is doing something passive like watching TV, sitting in school listening to the teacher, etc.

 

Joanne, it is fairly consistant. Certain pandas symptoms come and go, but the anxiety issues seem to blur together going on all the time. Both my sons (twins with pandas) have been on Augmentin since last spring. After seeing Dr T just last week we agreed to change this son's abx to zith (250 mg). Last night was the first dose. Perhaps that will do it.

 

I did give him a thing of chapstick this morning and he seems to be using it on his mouth instead of his fingers. I have previously tried a squeeze ball but that worked for only a short time. I am going to look into some natural things to put on his fingers, but I imagine he will fight me putting it on him.

 

Thanks for responding.

 

Kari

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hi - nail biting/trichatillomania/skin picking are all different representations of the same thing and are part of the OCD spectrum. My dd6, who has a pandas dx, recently had a PANDAS episode start following a flu-like illness. In addition she also started biting her nails at the same time (as did her brother, ds2, who has a possible pandas dx).

 

Our ds stopped biting his nails a week or so later. Our dd's symptoms all ramped, so we did a steroid burst which totally sat on her symptoms but NOT the nail biting, which she is still doing.

 

Last year we had her thyroid checked and it was ok. I've just had her thyroid checked again and she is low for T3. I mention this 'cos I was an avid nail biter until I was dxd with borderline low thyroid. Within 5 days of starting thyroid meds, my urge to bite went away completely.

 

I believe that an episode can start nail biting, cos it did with both my kids but that maybe thyroid may have something to do with it too. Can't remember where but I have read that PANDAS kids are more likely to have thyroid issues.....

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Looked up Selenium and found this.

 

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Selenium

Office of Dietary Supplements • National Institutes of Health

 

 

"People with acute severe illness who develop inflammation and widespread infection often have decreased levels of selenium in their blood"

 

Kari

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Kari,

I'm amazed at your finding. Stunned actually.

My dd16 also has the scalp picking symptom, which is really annoying, and she does it to point of bleeding. It's one of her Pandas/OCD symptoms.

 

When she did her steroid month, all her symptoms calmed down to near zero, even that one. During this month of heaven, she started taking her supplements, including Selenium, every day. Now that the effects of Prednisone have worn off, all the symptoms are coming back, but she's still taking the Selenium and other supplements, and I really have noticed that of all the symptoms, the one returning in the mildest form is the head-picking. It's back, but not nearly as bad as before, by a long shot.

 

So, when you posted that quote, it all clicked. Thank you so much!!!

 

Allison

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Nail biting is an OCD habit in people. It's hard habit to break. Will he wear the gloves at bedtime? If so, you could put a topical antibiotic on at night and cover them.

 

If he is avoiding washing his hands, can you replace hand washing with a hand sanitizer. The alcohol based is what kills the most germs, but that might burn. I have seen ones on tv that are more like a lotion and shouldn't dry out hands.

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thanks Vickie. the night time idea is great. i will try it tonight. he is getting a little better about washing because i told him i had special soap that does not burn! sometimes it is easier to convince a five year old about things a teenager would sneer about ^_^

 

as always, thanks.

Kari

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Using the gloves is a habit reversal technique - so you noticed something important. Basically you either give him something else to do that is not compatible with biting (our daughter spit constantly, so when we were working on not spitting, we let her have a sugar free lolly, or chew gum. She learned to blow bubbles at this time too), or you find a way to distract the biting (gloves, bandaids, fingertip covers). You can google "habit reversal" and nail biting & will find tons of info. Since the gloves worked once, then you may have a compulsion that is also a habit. In addition to habit reversal, we also did some ERP and a reward system. But at minimum, you can treat the habit portion, and you'll have a lot less damage.

 

If your son is 5, then you may find that kids at school are pretty low key about the gloves. If you can find a very light weight glove, you may be able to solve this - you may want to google some of the medical sites, for people that have med issues that would make them wear gloves. Something with a cool character on them maybe. If not, or if you think they would really be unkind, then look for other kinds of covers that will do fingertips only. I was amazed at 6, at how much my child did that I stressed would make her a loner, and how the kids seemed to look past it. Not sure at 8, what would happen, but we currently don't have any issues that we have to worry about.

 

Hope this is helpful.

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Meg, very helpful. thank you. We are lucky in that Jack's teacher is extreamly supportive and will allow us to try just about anything, even chewing gum! (which may actually work as he really likes gum). I will do some searching around as you suggest.

 

Kari :lol:

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