Onychophagia is the obsession one has for biting nails. The person affected with this problem will engage in nail biting compulsively, irrespective of the consequences. This is a psychological problem which is indication of addiction for nail biting. Onychophagia is exhibited in 33% of children of age group 7-10 years. This problem has been associated with Obsessive compulsive disorder OCD.
By biting the nails, the person will get a feeling of peace and relaxation. Whenever he/she feels stressed he will automatically engage in nail biting. The exact cause of onychophagia is unknown and varied. It can be due to stressful event or long lasting anxiety. Sometimes boredom or physical discomfort induces one to engage in biting nails. In most of the case, nail biting can be the consequences of psychological battle inside.
In rare cases, nail biting is an indication of self punishment. Usually onychophagia starts in early childhood and continues through adult ages. It is manifested in both sexes. Many people bite their nails as part of daily routine without getting stressed. For instance they bite nails while socializing, watching television or white chatting with their friends.
Some experts believe nail biting is associated with nervous disorder and exhibited by people who have difficulty to open-up or ventilate their feelings. Sometimes it can be a symptom of pending anger or stubborn attitude. The behavior of nail biting can also be an expression to show denial or disobedience in following the instructions or to memorize the lesson among children.
Signs of Onychophagia :
Nail biting can be a social phenomenon for many people. In our society great stress is placed on the child and every parent expects his child to be competent enough to face the challenges of the world. So, without their knowledge they push the child continuously to reach the goal, without knowing whether the child is mentally prepared for it. In the end the child will restore to one or other defense mechanism like nail biting.
A conscious child will feel increased pressure on the tips of his fingers. So he starts biting it to reduce the pressure or tension. For young girls, hands are to be kept clean and they consider it as a sign of beauty. Hence they resort to biting the nails to repeatedly keep the hands clean and beautiful.
What is the risk in onychophagia?
Biting nails can medically give room for spreading of infection in many ways. Countless germs are present on the hands and fingers in spite of our repeated washing of hands. By biting the nails a person is giving chance to spread multiple infections to his body. Often people who are seen biting nails will have problems like diarrhea, nausea or vomiting tendency.
Many infectious bacteria or fungus like candidiasis and virus like herpes can pose danger to our health by engaging in nail biting.
Onychophagia or nail biting continuously can cause redness and spread of acute infection through the fingers. Further it increases the risk of getting painful blisters on the nails and the nails will look swollen and painful. If left untreated nails can develop abscess making it difficult to treat.
Pictures of Onychophagia :
Images, Pics, Pictures and Photos of Onychophagia
It is easy to treat onychophagia through cognitive behavior therapy. Restrictive treatments are administered to stop the habit. For instance applying bitter polish on the nails, getting warning from parents or family members or self improvement suggestions can help a person to overcome this habit. You can also make a dressing or bandage on the tip of the finger so that it reduces the habit of nail biting.
In most of the cases, the approach should be based on psychological aspect. The person can undergo cognitive behavior therapy which slowly takes him out of this habit. Giving a physical solution alone is not enough to stop or manage onychophagia. The doctor should refer the person to a counselor to find his state of mind or suppressed emotions and help him to come out of it.
Bitter varnish can be applied on the tips of nail so that the person will develop aversion by smelling the nails. The person should be motivated well enough to reduce this bad habit and stop it eventually. Unless the person cooperate it is not possible to treat onychophagia.