Pica is a compulsive eating disorder where the person will eat small objects like dirt, hair, paint flakes, and ashes. This condition is most common in children as it usually develops at an early age, but it is possible for adults to develop it as well. Pica is easier to treat when the symptoms first appear. The longer the symptoms continue, the more likely it is that they will become a habit and coping mechanism, which is more difficult to stop.
Eating objects with no nutritional value has obvious health risks. People with pica will suffer frequent stomach aches and may develop more serious problems such as bloody stool, tooth injuries, infections, and led poisoning.