Self-inflicted lesions of the mouth and lips in mentally retarded young subjects

Maddalena Siragusa, Raffaele Ferri, Roberto Russo, Maria Lentini, Carmelo Schepis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate the type and frequency of self-mutilation lesions of the mouth and lips in a large group of institutionalized mentally retarded subjects. Subjects and methods: Two hundred and forty-five institutionalized mentally retarded patients were evaluated clinically by a systematic inspection of the perioral cutis, lips, tongue, oral mucosa, palate, gingivae and teeth. Moreover, the drug therapy taken by each patient was carefully reviewed. Results: Numerous lesions were found involving the tongue, lips, oral mucosa, perioral skin, gingivae and teeth, prevalently supported by a self-mutilation mechanism (such as cheek and tongue biting and nodular traumatic lesions), which were differentially expressed in patients with different degrees of mental retardation. A possible effect of anti-epileptic or neuroleptic drugs was also detected. Conclusions: These findings indicate that inspection of the oral cavity should always and carefully be performed in all patients with mental retardation and in those with neuroleptic and anti-epileptic drug therapy, in order to avoid or even extinguish self-mutilation of the oral cavity by means of an accurate hydration of the mucosa which might counterbalance some iatrogenic undesired effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-848
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Dermatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Cheek biting
  • Mental retardation
  • Morsicatio buccarum
  • Morsicatio labiorum
  • Self-mutilation
  • Tongue biting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Medicine(all)


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