Nail Biting: Causes And Consequences

Nail biting is a compulsive habit which is referred to as Onychophagia in medical language. This habit compels people to bite their nails, some people also bite the soft skin and tissues surrounding the nail. Nail biting is usually noticed in kids, teenagers and youngsters, however, some adults may also have this habit. Nail biting is at its peak during the teenage, and this problem slowly fades away as one matures. It is been noticed that boys are more susceptible to suffering from this habit in comparison to girls. Nail-biting is pretty common, but for some it is more than just a bad habit. It can become quite serious, as people who suffer from compulsive nail-biting may experience bleeding, bruises, infections, or even permanent damage to the fingers. The problem of nail biting is associated with anxiety[1], stress[2] and emotionally challenging surroundings.

Causes of Nail Biting:
The main cause of nail biting is still unknown.

  • Some research and studies have concluded that when people are facing stressful situations then they are somehow compelled to bite their nail as it may seem to ease the tension. People think that nail biting helps them deal with emotional problems in a better way.
  • Some people bite their nails when they are not engaged in any other activity. For some, this habit is a reaction of their hands towards boredom.
  • Some people bite their nails when they feel guilty about something or some situation. This may be because the guilty feeling gives rise to stress[3]. However, some people may tend to punish themselves by biting nails to get over the guilty feeling.
  • In few cases it has been observed the genetics may be responsible for this habit.
  • Sometimes kids start biting their nails when they see their parents or other elders in the family biting nails.
  • Oral fixation: oral fixation is a condition when someone feels the constant need to keep something in their mouth. These people bite their nails without realizing what they are doing. They do not realize but they bite their nails while reading books or watching television.
  • Some people bite their nails because of some deep emotional disorder.
  • In rare cases people bite their nails while they are asleep.

Harmful effects of nail biting

  • The nonstop nail biting makes the skin near the nail plate extremely tender and painful. Excessive nail biting can lead to bleeding and swollen fingertips. The badly bitten nails makes people uncomfortable throughout the day.
  • The area near the nail plate is prone to bacterial infections due to the presence of bacteria in the saliva. This health condition is known as paronchia.
  • Biting nails for long period of time results in deformation of the nail beds. Even if you quit biting your nails the deformed nail beds will not return back to normal and the nails will look very odd.
  • Infections due to nail biting are very common. The germs that are present under the nails can lead to gum infections and other health problems.
  • Nail biters are extremely conscious in the presence of people because they are embarrassed of their badly bitten nails. Such people start avoiding meeting people and being in the company of people.


  1. ^ anxiety (
  2. ^ stress (
  3. ^ (
  4. ^ (
  5. ^ (
  6. ^ (
  7. ^ (
  8. ^ (
  9. ^ (

Similar Posts