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[Self-Test] Nail Biting Disorder: Symptoms of Onychophagia in Children

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Nail biting is a common behavior that typically begins in childhood. For most children, nail biting is a harmless habit. A small portion of children, however, exhibit chronic and compulsive nail biting.

They bite their fingernails, cuticles, and skin surrounding their nails to the point of bleeding and soreness. They also continue to engage in nail biting despite its consequences to health, functioning, and wellbeing.Nail biting disorder, also known as onychophagia, is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) — a self-grooming, self-soothing behavior that is difficult to control or stop.

Children with BFRBs often deal with other co-occurring conditions, including anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).123Chronic nail biting, especially if untreated, can lead to health complications like dental problems, recurring infections, and permanent damage to the nails.4 Children with nail-biting disorder may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their condition, and may struggle to attend school and other social settings as a result.Answer the questions below to see if your child may be showing signs of onychophagia.

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