Some parents ignore the habit of biting the fingers (onychophagy) in the hope that the child will outgrow it, but as the child grows older, the situation only gets worse. Around 50 percent of children between 10 and 18 bite their nails at least occasionally, and for many kids, the habit starts even younger. It is important to pay attention to this problem in a timely manner and solve it immediately.
Why children bite fingernails on their hands – causes
In the first case, experts identify the following reasons why a child bites his nails:
- vitamin deficiency, minerals (magnesium);
- insufficient care for the cuticle and nail plates;
- diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous system;
- physical satisfaction from the process, the replacement of inaccessible pleasures, such as sweets;
There are other explanations why the child bites his nails – the reasons of a psychological nature:
- recent weaning from nipples or breasts;
- family problems
- severe stress (admission to kindergarten, school, etc.);
- excessive emotional, physical activity;
- lack of sleep;
- boredom, loneliness;
- depression, internal aggression;
- replacing finger sucking habit.
Is it harmful to bite your nails?
Children do not wash their hands very often and thoroughly, so all the dirt that accumulates on them instantly gets into the mouth and is swallowed. If a child bites his nails, he simultaneously damages their structure, which in the future affects the shape and growth rate of the plates.
Children bite their nails – the consequences
There are local and systemic complications of the described problem, which can worsen the lives of children and in adulthood. When the child constantly bites his nails, the following disorders occur:
- cuticle damage;
- growth retardation, change in the shape and structure of the nail plates;
- skin inflammation;
- wounds on the fingertips and around them.
Over time, systemic pathologies appear if the child bites his nails for a long time:
- frequent bacterial infections;
- disorders of the gastrointestinal tract;
- dental diseases;
- increased tooth mobility;
- viral diseases.
A child bites nails – what to do?
Both physical and psychological methods of action are effective in the fight against oniophagy. First, you need to find out exactly why children bite their nails. Knowing the essence of the problem, it is easier to find a suitable solution and completely get rid of it. If the parents do not manage to cope with the pathology on their own, you should consult with a pediatrician and a psychologist.
Here’s how to wean a child to bite his fingernails:
- Explain to the child the harm and danger of oniophagy.
- Find a way to distract from the habit of biting the fingers – a toy anti-stress, a special bracelet, a bauble and other options.
- Carefully monitor the nails and cuticle of the child, together make a beautiful and neat manicure.
- To pick up an interesting hobby in which the hands are occupied – modeling, drawing, designing and similar hobbies.