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Onychophagia, a condition you probably have.

Updated on June 14, 2011
Her nails aren't that short!
Her nails aren't that short!

What is it?

Onychophagia is possibly one of the most common conditions in the world. Chances are that you, dear reader, are suffering from it right now! But don't worry, Onychophagia is the fancy name for Nail-Biting...People usually grow out of it at a young age, but if like the millions of people (Me included), you carry on with this behavior in later life, for whatever reason, you are an Onychophagia sufferer!

People persist in this behavior for many reasons, including stress. But the main reasons seems to be the human tendency to fidget. We as a race fidget like mad, especially as children...But still as adults too!

Do I have it?!

To diagnose yourself, look at your hands. If you have no nails left, or have a strong urge to bite them to within an inch of their lives, then you have Onychophagia! Enjoy that.

If you don't, or just see it as a dirty habit, then you don't suffer from this condition, hurrah!

Famous sufferers include Britney Spears, Eva Mendes and Phil Collins, so don't worry if you are a sufferer, you're not alone!

Is it dangerous?

Well this really depends...Are you a clean person? If so, you're probably fine. If not, then perhaps you should be a little more worried.

Bu why you may ask? Well think about all the places your hands have been. To scratch your ass, to stroke your dog, to wipe dust off the counter, it all adds up. Even if you do wash your hands afterwards, some dirt becomes trapped, under your nails...And you're ingesting that! Lovely! This can lead to multiple infections and rather disgustingly, worms that are found commonly around the...rear...can be found in and around the mouth.


Is there a cure?!

Fortunately there is. There are all kinds of treatments for people who suffer from this condition. One involves a nail-varnish type of liquid that has a disgusting taste being applied to the nails, and other forms of aversion therapy.

For a low-low price of £400, you can have a mouth guard made specifically to stop you biting, although the social implications are much more severe than simply biting your nails!

If they don't work, you can always try hypnotherapy...It's worth a shot!


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    • Ryan-Palmsy profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Palmer 

      8 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

      Ouch! That sounds painful!

    • celeste inscribed profile image

      Celeste Wilson 

      8 years ago

      I didn't bite my nails but a friend of mine would bite them until they bled. Then walk around with bandaids on her hands, which she would pick at. It was a nervous problem for her, but got slightly better with age. She hated it but couldn't stop.

    • Katharella profile image


      10 years ago from Lost in America

      I've gone in and out of this my whole life! Different things stopped it at different times! I got so bad before that I'd actually go scrub them just to bite them LOL... well, I haven't bitten them in about 2 months now because my friend was telling me about how much she loved these newfangled colors of nail polish! So I picked some up, got a little buffer and been keeping them painted! So I'm on the right track and they're FINALLY getting a tip!

      Once I worked at a toy store before Christmas and a lady with beautiful nails said "Honey don't bite your nails they look horrible" LOL well, I think it sounded mean, but that day I swore I never wanted to hear that again, so anytime I wasn't busy, I SAT ON MY HANDS! I wouldn't even allow myself to do anything that would lead my hands to my mouth!

      Once I seen them under a blacklight.. AFTER I scrubbed them, OH MY GOSH AT THE DIRT STILL THERE, you don't see it until you see it under a black light!

      If you still can't stop, get those cinnamon tooth picks, so there's something to keep that "biting" going and your nails will get back to normal! And you'll get a LOT LESS COLDS too! Great hub, a lot of people don't even like to admit they do it, but I understand it's hard for a girl because we like to doll up and nail polish is part of that, but for a guy, there's not that incentive!

      BUT I also found out when I stayed busy, there was NO TIME to do it, and that helps too, keeping busy with other things. As much as we know I love my movies, it's still time I could do it, but that's when I bring out the old buffer and keep the edges from getting rough. I think the rough edges make it worse cos you want to bite them off, so maybe just try keeping those rough edges clipped away and filed soft! Guys can use lotions too, it doesn't make ya less "manly" and it'll help!

    • Ryan-Palmsy profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Palmer 

      10 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

      They do! Ever since I found the things out that I wrote for this article I've been trying not to bite my nails, but it's failing! LOL

    • ChristineVianello profile image


      10 years ago from Philadelphia

      I really think that most of the world suffers with this!

    • Ryan-Palmsy profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Palmer 

      10 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

      That's a good idea! It'd certainly shock them! Children are prone to biting their nails, it's just what they do really, but if, as adults, they still continue to they may need to seek help to stop them from doing so!

      Thanks for commenting and rating!

    • BkCreative profile image


      10 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oooh, I've known so many of my students to bite their nails - they didn't realize how easy it was to get an infection. And you raise a very good point about all the surfaces your hands touch - ewww!

      What I may do now if I see a child doing this is say "OMG, you have onychopagia! Of course they would not want that. It may work.

      Thanks for a creative hub! Rated up!


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