When I'm concentrating hard or anxious I unconsciously start biting my cheeks, sometimes biting off the topmost layer of skin. I don't bleed, but the sensation of the skin is bumpy instead of smooth.

I have done some googling, but can't seem to get anything else than articles related to peeling of the skin inside the mouth (e.g. http://www.webdental.com/profiles/blogs/the-inside-of-my-mouth-is-peeling-what-s-going-on), which is definitely not similar to my situation.

Has anyone heard of this kind of fixation, and is there any potential health risks associated with it?


The greatest risk of this is sore formation, thickening of skin due to callus and infection. As infection, callus and sores can be disfiguring and debilitating this is a formidable problem. However, most issues come from the deeper skin being broken.

Morsicatio buccarum et labiorum

In some individuals habitual cheek and lip biting becomes a fixed neurosis. Pieces of oral mucosa are actually torn free from the surface, producing a distinctive clinical appearance termed morsicatio buccarum et labiorum.

This disorder though probably not what your looking for us what extreme cases can turn into.

Oral Frictional Hyperkeratosis

Most patients with frictional keratosis are free of symptoms, with the exception of those with aggressive cheek and lip biting habits. In some individuals who repeatedly traumatize the tissues, tenderness, swelling, and a burning sensation may be presenting symptoms. Patients with persistent cheek and lip biting habits tend to have increased stress and psychologic disorders. A patient may notice a thickening or roughness of the involved mucosal site, or frictional keratosis may be discovered as an incidental finding during a routine oral examination.

The risk of cancer from this seems low, but consulting a doctor or dentist would be the best course of action.



  • Although there is practically no chance that Hyperkeratosis will turn into cancer, if this is bothering the patient reating/eliminating the underlying cause of stress would be recommended, by for instance going to see a psychologist. – enap_mwf Jun 9 '16 at 22:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.