My strange addiction: chewing the skin off my feet

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

Kids go through phases all the time. One of the strangest phases I went through as a child was the period of time when I regularly chewed the skin off my feet with my teeth. I was surprisingly thorough.

Those foot-nibbling Garra rufa fish used in fish pedicures had nothing on me. According to Healthline, "Garra rufa will only eat dead skin if they are starving, so the fish are not given other food." I, on the other hand, didn't actually eat the skin. So I was always ready and able to give my feet a good nibble.

It all started after my family went to the beach one summer day. My feet felt sore when we got home. I inspected my soles and heels and found several scraped spots where the skin was starting to peel. So I picked at the peeling skin until I couldn't loosen it further.

In a fit of inspiration, I brought my foot to my mouth and bit down on an area of peeling skin. Using my teeth I worked long strips of skin off my soles, arches, heels, and toes.

My handiwork left my feet feeling raw and sore. So naturally, I did it again the following day.

Night after night, I sat cross-legged in front of the television and nibbled any skin that had dared to regrow on my poor battered feet. Like any addiction, it proved nearly impossible to stop.

I can't remember how long my habit lasted. What I do remember is that it started over the summer and continued into the school year. I can remember the hot burning pain of my raw feet rubbing against the inside of my wooden clogs.

Yes, I wore wooden clogs in elementary school. No, they weren't comfortable. They were even less so every time I chewed the skin off my feet. I only changed into sneakers and socks for gym class, and even those were uncomfortable with missing patches of skin on my feet.

Eventually, I kicked the habit. I had no choice. From the classroom to the gymnasium to the auditorium to lunch and back, there was more walking required during a day of elementary school than I cared to do on skinned feet. Once wearing shoes became unbearable, I had to stop. Walking barefoot at school wasn't an option, unfortunately. I would have done it if I could have.

The only thing I miss about those strange days was having enough flexibility to get my foot in my mouth. I've tried it recently, not because I wanted to chew the skin off my feet but because I wanted to see how much flexibility I had retained since my elementary school days. The answer is none.

Have you ever had a strange or uncomfortable habit? Comments are welcome.

Why would you want to Buy Me a Coffee? I am a full-time writer and a full-time unpaid caregiver to my 84-year-old father, who lives with Parkinson's. 100% of your tip or donation goes toward paying for my dad's groceries. Thank you.

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Ordained Minister, Universal Life Church

Massachusetts State

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