Why Do Some People Eat Soap?


If you’ve heard of the term “Pica” or “Sapophagia,” then you probably have heard stories about why some people like to eat soap. However, little is known about this condition. Hopefully, with this article, we will give you all the answers to some of the most common yet essential questions about soap eating.

People eat soap due to many reasons. The leading causes are mental disorders and emotional stress. Some people may also eat soap due to a medical condition known as Pica. It may also be due to deficiencies of certain trace elements, which give you the urge to eat soap.

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Pica is a common condition that some people are born with, while others develop because it runs in their families. If you or someone close to you has paged behavior and loves eating soap then there could be an explanation for this unusual craving as well information on fixing up the problem.

Why is soap not edible?

A typical soap is made with lye, making the product completely inedible. As a result, eating a typical soap will definitely upset your digestion. It actually irritates the lining of your digestive tract. 

This may sound not too bad, but do not just expect a little discomfort when you eat soap, as it can lead to much more than that, but more about that later.

Also, they taste terrible. If you take a small bite of a bar of soap or even lick liquid soap, it will leave you with an awful taste in your mouth. 

Here are some ingredients that make soap non-edible:

  • Sodium Or Potassium Salts
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)
  • Methylisothiazolinone & Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Triclosan
  • Fragrances
  • Parabens
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate (Sles)

Why do some people eat soap?

The short answer to this question is that eating soap helps some people feel better when stressed. This happens because the stress level is much higher than usual, and your body’s response to this stress is by desiring soap. 

Or this could be due to a psychological disorder known as Pica (an eating disorder in which the person eats something that is not edible). 

But there is no definitive cause identified. Researchers speculate that it could be due to a nutritional deficit. But, on the other hand, it could be our body’s way of expressing something important that is missing from our diet and needs to be filled.

Moreover, social and cultural standards can contribute to such traditions, which subsequently become a part of a community’s lifestyle and are passed down through generations. 

Pica has also been reported by several pregnant women who experienced a sudden need to eat soap while pregnant. This condition occurs in pregnant women due to a desire for certain nutrients (such as minerals found in dirt), but most of the time, pica cravings can be triggered by iron and zinc deficits. Luckily this craving stops as soon as the pregnancy ends. 

What are the signs of Pica?

Many people would say eating unusual things are a sign of Pica, but it’s not that simple. Some cultures may eat things that are unusual in the western world and therefore considered normal. 

Signs of Pica is usually related to the following:

  • Eating non-food items that don’t provide any nutritional value.
  • The ingestion of none-nutritive substances such as clay or ash is usually considered normal for a two-year-old kid but not for a teenager.
  • Craving for pebbles, charcoal, wool, chalk powder, paint, charcoal, starch, ash, or clay is a typical sign of Pica.
  • Even though there are strange eating practices worldwide, eating substances that are not part of these cultures and practices might be a sign of Pica.

How do you fix pica?

Pica is treated differently based on the underlying causes of the disorder. Pica can cause various symptoms, which vary depending on which nonfood items are ingested. 

Pica patients may experience the following symptoms, which require in-depth treatment:

  • Constipation and diarrhea medications
  • Stomach ulcer treatment
  • Infections are treated with antibiotics
  • Supplemental nutrition is given to people who are deficient in certain nutrients
  • Taking care of other medical issues, such as lead poisoning

This illness primarily affects children, with adults and adolescents being the least affected. Pica has yet to be identified with a cure, while there are strategies to alleviate symptoms and avoid clinical signs from deteriorating. 

Medication is the most common treatment; medicines can help improve dopaminergic activity. In addition, psychological counseling can be very beneficial in dealing with stress and is strongly advised.

The following are top  treatment techniques that target the pica behavior:

  • A mental health/behavioral health specialist referral
  • Redirecting a child’s attention away from a nonfood object and rewarding them for choosing food over nonfood objects are examples of behavior modification programs.
  • Medications are used to treat behavioral issues and to assist people in controlling their urges to devour non-food objects.

Lastly, promoting awareness is just as vital as finding a cure for an illness; therefore, we all have a role to play in doing so. Bulimia, along with trichophagia and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are all symptoms of pica behavior. 

What are the side effects of eating soap?

A typical side effect of eating soap is a blockage in or damage to the gastrointestinal tract. If you ingested soap, you might have pain or swelling in your throat, lips, as well as tongue. Symptoms of gastric distress may also be present or vomiting frequently and, in worse cases, vomiting blood. 

The following are some more common negative effects:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chemical skin burns
  • Loss of vision (if the soap product burns the eye)
  • Severe gastrointestinal symptoms (bloody vomits)
  • Severe burns to the food pipe

Can eating soap harm you?

Soap has low toxicity. Some bar soaps may contain harmful substances,  so a tiny amount of soap in the mouth is unlikely to cause harm. However, continuously eating soap will lead to diarrhea and vomiting.

The dose, not the nature of the chemicals, determines how much they can harm you. In addition to other symptoms, eating a bite or two of soap may cause severe indigestion. Eating soap can cause life-threatening health problems in the long run.

Can eating soap cause cancer?

When used topically, some soap constituents are safe, but they are known to be carcinogenic when swallowed regularly. In addition, protracted interaction with triclosan, a chemical found in soaps, conditioners, shampoos, toothpaste, and various other products, has been linked to liver fibrosis and cancer. Therefore, there is a chance that soap consumption may increase the chances of developing cancer. 

What happens if you eat soap every day?

Let’s just say that you, for some reason, decide to eat soap every day. A low toxic compound daily may not harm you immediately. But because these toxins damage the body slowly, the damage will be irreversible as time passes. 

Would eating soap cause death?

Pica is, in almost all cases, not life-threatening. But when not treated quickly and is not under control, it may become lethal. Of course, this depends on the type of substances consumed (meaning fatty acids and salts within the soap). These ingredients are mostly non-toxic and should not cause poisoning directly, and therefore should also not cause death immediately. 

Is there a soap that you can eat?

Although edible soap is a thing, you’re not meant to satiate hunger. Edible soap is mainly used as a safe and non-toxic hygiene product for children and animals. 

A good example is: Pure aloe vera, organic jojoba, and kosher vegetable glycerin infused with edible food-grade plant extracts make up the base.

You may make one of these at home as well. Natural and organic soaps contain ingredients that are safe enough to eat. Producing your own edible and safe soap is a simple process that takes little time. This recipe is safe since it uses natural, hypoallergenic ingredients. 

Biodegradable soaps are created entirely of natural components that are gentle on the skin and beneficial to the body when eaten. Only natural oils are utilized in the soap, and waxes such as beeswax are used to give it a creamy texture. Natural exfoliants, natural wax, natural butter, and optional spices are also included.

Below we have listed some easily-available products you can get your hands on to follow this quick recipe:

  1. Natural Oils: Macadamia Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, etc.
  2. Natural Wax: Honeycomb
  3. Natural Butters: Cacao Butter, Shea Butter, etc.
  4. Natural Exfoliant: Oat Flour, Fine Grounded Coffee, Cinnamon, Baking Soda, Fine Grounded Sea Salt, etc. 
  5. Additionally, Optional Spices: Vanilla Pod, Marshmallow Root, Calendula, Lemon Balm, Mint, etc.

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