Soap-Eating Habit Cements Sisters' Bond

  • Two sisters in a village in Nandi County have baffled residents for their unusual craving for soap. File
  • For the last 19 years, Sharon Chepchirchir, has amazed residents of Kibochi Village in Nandi County with her unending appetite for soap.

    According to a report by The Standard, on Friday, November 8, Sharon involuntarily found herself incessantly craving soap on a daily basis, to satisfy a desire no one including her could explain.

    “I don’t know why I eat soap but I enjoy it. I discovered my appetite for soap when I was five years old,” stated Chepchirchir.

    Sharon Jepchirchir 24, Lidia Chepkemboi 17 and Monica Jebet (mother) at Kibochi village in Nandi County
    Sharon Jepchirchir (24) Lidia Chepkemboi, (17) with their mother Monica Jebet at Kibochi Village in Nandi County. Photo: The Standard

    The Standard further reported that the appetite seems to run in the family as Sharon’s younger sister, Lydia Chepkemoi, also has the same condition, despite them being brought up in different households.

    “My younger sister lived with my aunt and we rarely met. One day, I noticed she had a bar of soap in her pocket. I asked what she was doing with it and she said she eats soap. This brought us closer because we borrow soap from one another,” Sharon was quoted by the publication.

    The bizarre cravings have made her seek spiritual deliverance; an attempt that has not borne fruit so far, fuelling her grandmother’s conviction that the duo may have been cursed.

    Despite this strange act of feeding on the highly alkaline compounds, doctors at various hospitals have always given them a clean bill of health.

    “Eating soap has never affected my health. I also eat any food. If I can't get a bar of soap, I lick powder soap,” Sharon added. 

    Their mother, Monica Jebet, explained her frustrations after trying all she could to ensure her daughters kicked the habit that has turned the home into an attraction for bewildered residents. She told the publication that some medics had opined that their cravings could be genetic.

    The craving to eat non-nutritive, non-food items such as ice, clay, soil or paper and in the case of Sharon and her sister, soap, is grouped under an eating disorder called pica.

    Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Dr. Judy Wanjiku, a physiologist, associated the condition with intellectual disorders and also lack of various minerals in the body.

    Pica (eating disorder) substances.
    A list of typical substances craved by individuals with the eating disorder, Pica, the persistent eating of non-nutritive substances. Source: PLOS ONE peer-reviewed journal.

    “The victims may find themselves having an insatiable appetite for soap, cigarette ashes, dirt, sand, paint, and even to extreme cases of eating faecal remains,” she explained.

    However, Wanjiku observed that there was no scientifically proven cause of the disorder that may highly affect people with different mental health conditions like schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).