Substances Consumed

Substances may be labeled or identified as objects of pica. Certain groups may show a preference for a substance as part of their pica behavior. It is interesting to note that the range of items reported has changed little over 4 centuries. Table 1 presents a selection of information on the more common items consumed.1,2,6,10,13,16

Table 1. Common Items Consumed.
Label Substance Frequency of Reporting Groups Who Show a Preference
Geophagia Clay, dirt, sand, chalk Most common substance Pregnant women, children
Amylophagia Starch Second most common substance Women
Pagophagia Ice/frost Frequent Patients on dialysis, patients with gastric bypass or iron deficiency
Plumbophagia Paint chips Frequent Children
Trichophagia Hair Occasional
Cautopyreiophagia Burnt match heads Rare
Coprophagia Feces Rare Patients who are institutionalized
Xylophagia Wood/paper Frequent
Lithophagia Rocks, pebbles, gravel Rare
Geomelophagia Raw potatoes Occasional
Emetophagia Vomit Rare
Hyalophagia Glass Rare
Mucophagia Mucus Rare
Urophagia Urine Rare
Cigarette butts, ashes Rare
Sponge, foam rubber Rare Patients with sickle cell disease
Glue Frequent Children
Metal, wire Rare
Soap Rare
Fiber, string Occasional