A bad habit: Nail biting


Onychophagia refers to the habit of nail biting.

Nail gnawed: concentration, stress, nervousness, expectation

Onychophagia is a frequent disorder, particularly in children who account for 25% of the cases. However, many teenagers and adults are affected by this mania.

The affected people will regularly wear their fingers to the mouth and gnaw the tip of the nails and the small skins around. This behavior occurs during stress, nervousness, concentration or waiting periods.

Nail biting: possible complications

Onychophagy can have more or less serious consequences. Gnawing your nails can cause:

  • Bleeding,
  • Of the phenomena of inflammation,
  • Infections, etc.

This mania can be considered disabling. It is therefore best to try to get rid of this habit as soon as possible.

Stopping onychophagia: several methods according to age

Onychophagy is an insidious behavior that is difficult to get rid of. Several methods can be used depending on the age group.

In young children: divert attention and congratulate

Onychophagy can start very early (from the age of 3 years). Some methods will help parents eliminate these parasitic gestures:

  • Divert the child from this mania,
  • Use the game to get it stopped,
  • Congratulate him when he does not.

In adults: false nails, bitter varnish, care, etc.

Many deterrent methods can be implemented in adults without risk:

  • Application of a bitter varnish,
  • Laying false nails ,
  • Aesthetic nail care: having beautiful nails can deter them from gnawing,
  • Eliminate the dead skin and the cuticles of the nails in order to diminish the temptation (in addition, onychophagy will stimulate the regrowth of the cuticles),
  • Regular nail cutting, etc.

If this mania becomes really disabling (repeated infections) and none of the methods mentioned have worked, please consult your doctor.


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