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.
LabelSubstanceFrequency of ReportingGroups Who Show a Preference
GeophagiaClay, dirt, sand, chalkMost common substancePregnant women, children
AmylophagiaStarchSecond most common substanceWomen
PagophagiaIce/frostFrequentPatients on dialysis, patients with gastric bypass or iron deficiency
PlumbophagiaPaint chipsFrequentChildren
TrichophagiaHairOccasional
CautopyreiophagiaBurnt match headsRare
CoprophagiaFecesRarePatients who are institutionalized
XylophagiaWood/paperFrequent
LithophagiaRocks, pebbles, gravelRare
GeomelophagiaRaw potatoesOccasional
EmetophagiaVomitRare
HyalophagiaGlassRare
MucophagiaMucusRare
UrophagiaUrineRare
Cigarette butts, ashesRare
Sponge, foam rubberRarePatients with sickle cell disease
GlueFrequentChildren
Metal, wireRare
SoapRare
Fiber, stringOccasional