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Nailbiting.

Clinical Pediatrics 1990 December
Nailbiting is a common oral habit in children and young adults. It is estimated that 28 to 33% of children between the ages of 7 to 10 years and 45% of adolescents are nailbiters. The etiologies suggested for nailbiting include stress, imitation of other family members, heredity, a transference from the thumb sucking habit, and poorly manicured nails. Nailbiting is usually confined to the fingernails and most nailbiters bite all 10 fingers equally rather than selectively. Complications of nailbiting include damage to the cuticles and nails, secondary bacterial infection and dental problems. Treatment should be directed at any precipitating causes of stress. Reminders should only be used with the consent of the child. Care of the nails and cuticles, behavioral modification techniques, positive reinforcement, and regular follow-up are important aspects of treatment. Nailbiting, or onychophagia, is defined as the habit of biting one's nails and is a common oral habit in children and young adults. Nailbiting is embarrassing, unattractive, socially undesirable, and can predispose to the development of paronychia. Physicians are frequently consulted about nailbiting but not withstanding the prevalence of the problem, there is a surprising lack of literature on nailbiting. The purpose of this article is to familiarize the reader with the problem and to suggest appropriate approaches to treatment.

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