In details

What is onychophagy?

THE onychophagy is the singular habit of biting nails, One of the most common we see in children, youth and adults.

The habit and the need to bite or even eat the nails is linked to a psycho-emotional state of anxiety, ie, considered as a reflection of emotional maladjustments.

THE incidence decreases after 16 years of age. Therefore, it is considered normal between the ages of 4 to 18 years, due to its high prevalence in this age group.

The cause of the habit It is not yet known. But people who bite their nails have more anxiety than those who don't have onychophagia. Usually onychophagia is caused by stress, anxiety, or even a craze.

Some also cite the family tendency, probably due to the act of imitation. But the nail biting habit needs to stop happening. At first you do not even notice, but over time can affect your body, teeth and other things.

Its consequences

Nail biting can cause serious problems. Nail biting produces wounds that serve as a gateway to viruses such as HPV, which causes skin warts. Those who swallow bits of nails may have minor stomach or intestinal injuries. Another factor is that the hands may be dirty and the person ends up ingesting germs.


On the whole, onychophagia is not a case to worry about and, if not stimulated, over time disappears. However, if it is associated with other problems, the picture is more complex and needs expert help.

Here are some habits that help control onychophagia:

  • Keep your nails well trimmed, preventing the badly trimmed ends from tempting rodents.
  • Rubber Teether (especially when watching movies, games, soap operas, etc.)
  • Sugar Free Gum
  • Occupy hands with activities (manual work or instruments).

The best thing to do is to look for a doctor, as there are several types of treatments, either drug based or therapies. Before long it begins to disappear. Remember that this is a frequent problem, regardless of age, but requires caution.

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