Nail biting or onychophagia is an unwanted but very common behavior characterized by putting one’s nail into the mouth and chewing on it. Some may say that nail biting is a harmless habit, but it’s actually considered a disorder that affects almost anyone regardless of age and gender. In the United States, 23% of children 3 to 6 years old, 33% of children 7 to 10 years old, and 45% of adolescents have nail biting disorders.
Continuous nail biting can result to damaged or bleeding nails. Some cases leave the gums damaged. Severe cases involve biting the nail until lost. Some cases are so serious that even the cuticle, the nail-bed skin, or even the finger is chewed. Nail biting can also leave injuries exposed to viral and microbial infections, especially when saliva gets into the wounds. Nail biting can also result to dental problems, and when bitten-off nails are ingested, stomach problems can occur.