Nail Biting

Onychophagia, or nail biting, is a common oral compulsive habit in children and adults.

Nail biting is considered an impulse control disorder in the DSM-IV-R; the ICD-10 classifies it as “other specified behavioral and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence.”[1]

Biting nails can lead to broken skin on the cuticle. When cuticles are improperly removed, they are susceptible to microbial and viralinfections such asparonychia. Saliva may then redden and infect the skin.[2]

Nail biting is also related to dental problems, such as gingival injury and malocclusion of the anterior teeth.[3][4]

It can also transfer pinworms or bacteria buried under the surface of the nail from the anus region to the mouth.[5][6] When the bitten-off nails are swallowed stomach problems can develop.[4]

Medical literature reports cases of fingernails being severely deformed after years of nail biting.[7]

  1. ^ “Impulse control disorder”. SteadyHealth. 30 December 2010. http://ic.steadyhealth.com/impulse_control_disorder.html. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  2. ^ abc Leung AK, Robson WL (1990). “Nailbiting”. Clin Pediatr (Phila)29 (12): 690–2. doi:10.1177/000992289002901201. PMID 2276242.
  3. ^ Krejci CB (June 2000). “Self-inflicted gingival injury due to habitual fingernail biting”. J. Periodontol.71 (6): 1029–31. doi:10.1902/jop.2000.71.6.1029. PMID10914808.
  4. ^ ab Tanaka OM, Vitral RW, Tanaka GY, Guerrero AP, Camargo ES (August 2008). “Nailbiting, or onychophagia: a special habit”. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop134 (2): 305–8. doi:10.1016/j.ajodo.2006.06.023. PMID 18675214.
  5. ^ Sung JF, Lin RS, Huang KC, Wang SY, Lu YJ (November 2001). “Pinworm control and risk factors of pinworm infection among primary-school children in Taiwan”. Am. J. Trop. Med. Hyg.65 (5): 558–62. PMID 11716114. http://www.ajtmh.org/cgi/pmidlookup?view=long&pmid=11716114.
  6. ^ Baydaş B, Uslu H, Yavuz I, Ceylan I, Dağsuyu IM (2007). “Effect of a chronic nail-biting habit on the oral carriage of Enterobacteriaceae”. Oral Microbiol. Immunol.22 (1): 1–4. doi:10.1111/j.1399-302X.2007.00291.x. PMID 17241163.
  7. ^ Jabr FI (September 2005). “Severe nail deformity. Nail biting may cause multiple adverse conditions”. Postgrad Med118 (3): 37–8, 42. PMID 16201307.