Offbeat — 16 April 2013


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Why do people bite their fingernails

Does your child bite his/her nails quite often? Do you often find him/her watching TV and biting nails? Do you need to stop him/her several times a day from biting nails? If you wonder about the nail biting habit your child has acquired then you will be surprised to know that this habit not only affects children, but it also affects teenagers.

The medical term for this “nervous habit” is Onychophagia. People bite their nails when they are bored or stressed or excited. Sometimes people bite their nails when they are free and simply want to kill time. Nail biting can be a learned behavior that people acquire from close friends or family members. While biting nails, people may also bite the cuticles or the soft tissue around the nail.

As a nervous habit, people do not realize when they are biting nails. They may begin to bite their nails while talking on phone or watching TV or thinking about something, without even realizing about it.

Some people believe that people bite their nails when they are obsessed with oral stimulation and want something or other to put in their mouth and chew. This can start as early as 18 months of age. When in stress, some people begin to bite nail or the end of pens or pencils, since the urge to put something in mouth gets very strong.

Nail biting can be eliminated with strong will power. Besides, keeping the nails trimmed and clean also helps in reducing the habit of nail biting. As a precaution, you can also apply some bitter tasting nail polish to remind you about your bad habit. Boys can apply clear nail paint as a reminder.

If your child bites his/her nails quite often then talk to her about any possible stressful things he/she is facing in school or at home to reduce nail biting.

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Written by Ritu Insaan

A homemaker, social worker and a mother, Ritu Insaan holds an MBA degree in Public Health. She has worked in the rural areas of northern India for the upliftment of less privileged sections of society. Whenever she finds free time amidst her busy schedule, she does freelance writing for a number of websites.

About Author

A homemaker, social worker and a mother, Ritu Insaan holds an MBA degree in Public Health. She has worked in the rural areas of northern India for the upliftment of less privileged sections of society. Whenever she finds free time amidst her busy schedule, she does freelance writing for a number of websites.

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