Nail biting – Nail biting, a Health and Social Issue

February 21, 2009 by  
Filed under Nail Biting

Nail biting, known as Onychophagia in medical terminology, is a compulsive urge in children and even adults to bite on their nails. As many as 30 percent in the 7-10 age group of children and 45% of teens are addicted to finger nail biting. Boys are more often found to be biting nails than girls. Baby nail biting could include biting of toe nails as well as babies are flexible. Most of the addicted people give up the habit when they reach 30. But some adult nail biting cases are also there.

Raw edges of nails ravaged by nail biting look unsightly. Even the finger tips look unsightly with the skin around the nails puckering away. Why even the teeth get bitten off in the course of nail biting!

Aesthetics apart, they damage the skin around the nails allowing germs to breed around on them and causing infection. Damaged nails are prone to attracting fungi which cause nail fungus infection. They could also infect the nail bed and cause paronychia or warts. A debilitating inflammation could also result. In extreme cases of nail biting a hemorrhage could develop. Finally you also face the risk of nail loss.

The infecting germs get transported to the body through the mouth causing dental infection while passing through the mouth and gut infection while passing through the gut. It could even be the other way around. Germs might get transported from the mouth to the site of nail biting. Nail biting need not necessarily be with the mouth. One may even pick at the nails with fingers and infect the picking finger as well. All in all, a chain of health disorders get let on the loose.

Voluntarily or involuntarily, nail biting is accompanied by skin picking, termed dermatillomania in medical terminology, and skin biting, dermatophagia in medical terminology. Therefore, the negative effects of nail biting get permuted with the negative effects of skin picking and skin biting. The combinatorial effect of the three could play havoc with the person’s health.

Health issues of nail biting apart, nail biting gives rise to some ungainly social issues as well. The nail biting person may be ostracized by family, friends as well as office acquaintances. The person himself may, as a consequence, end up having a low self esteem. His salability gets reduced. The chances of his getting fruitfully employed are questionable. Marriage becomes a remote possibility for him.

Nail biting should not be left untreated. The health and social let downs because of nail biting are stupendous. Surely you do not want to scare people off their pants with your blood dripping fingers?