Nail Biting
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If seeing your childís fingernails chewed to the nub is a familiar sight, youíre not alone. One of the most common childhood habits is nail biting. Dr. Edward Hill discusses this habit in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Nail biting is one of the most common childhood habits. Some studies estimate that 45 to 60 percent of American children chew on their nails.

Nail biting can cause fingertips to be red and sore and cuticles to bleed. Nail biting also increases the risk for infections around the nailbed and in the mouth. Dental problems and gum infections can also be caused by nail biting.

Long-term nail biting can interfere with normal nail growth and cause deformed nails.

Nail biting occurs most often as teens are going through puberty. Like most habits, nail biting often disappears on its own as kids outgrow the urge to do it.

In the meantime, avoid threatening or punishing your child ó these tactics tend to backfire. Instead, tell him or her why you donít like the behavior and offer rewards for self-control.

Your child may bite his or her nails when under stress, so try to see if thereís a pattern to the nail biting.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.