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How to stop nail biting

Biting nails at a glance doesn't seem that much of a problem but careful examination of this behavior surely shows that it is problematic.

The technical word for nail biting is Onychophagia and it starts generally between the age of 4 or 5 to ten. It is a very common problem and over 30% of the Americans show, nail biting behavior and it is the maximum at the time of puberty.

This highly prevalent behavior much more in children results in short and ragged nails. It can also result in cuticle damage and damage to the edges of the nails resulting in bleeding. Infections are also a possibility.

When Malon and Massmer researched children behavior in the Chicago school system, they found out that more than half of the children in the age group of 8 to 10 showed nail biting behavior. It is also an agreed fact that nail biting is a learnt habit from parents or from people around the child.

Anyone who is habituated to biting would tell you how difficult it is to overcome this habit. One could try to identify the reasons behind biting your nails and then try to solve it. Biting is seen to be a very private affair and some experts feel that it is some sort of self-indulgence. What ever might be the reasons behind biting nails, it is no doubt very prevalent and knows no boundary of class and gender.

Various studies have come out with the observation that biting could be the result of nervousness or boredom or stress or even hunger. It generally indicates some kind of mental or emotional upheaval. Clinically it is known as chronic onychophagia. A breakdown of its prevalence reveals that nail biting is the maximum in adolescents (over 40%) then in children from seven to ten years (over 30%). More than 25% of the teenagers are habituated to nail biting and more than 5% of the adults also show nail biting tendencies.

The biggest problem with biting ones nails is the threat of infection. Germs that might be in your nails might get transferred to your mouth. It is similar to what happens in nail salons. When tools like files are used on different people it might lead to spread of nail fungi, viruses or staph bacteria. And when you bite your nails, you invite the germs into your body.

It is also seen that even cuticles and skin around the nails also get bitten in case of compulsive. With broken skins, the chances of microbial infections increase manifold. There are other negative aspects of biting nails. It might lead to restraints where use of hands is concerned. Tasks like writing, drawing, typing, driving or playing stringed instruments could be hampered. It might be because of the damage to the fingers or due to the person trying to avoid showing the appearance of his nails. What is more, prolonged biting of nails could also result in substantia adamantinea of the front teeth which could lead to caries.