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Onychophagia – an Awareness Based Survey in its Situation among South Indian Population


Type of manuscript : Survey article Running title : Onychophagia and its situations Dr. Karthick Ganesh. K . Assistant Professor Department of Anatomy Saveetha Dental College Saveetha University Chennai, India. 162, Poonamallee High Road Chennai = 600077 Faculty Email ID : Telephone: +91 98402 10597


Nail-Biting, Side effects, Boredom, Relaxation, Anxiety, Preventions, Unhealthiest. AIM To note the situations in which people do nail biting and to create awareness among South indian Population.


Onychophagia is a habit of compulsive nail biting. Nail-Biting is most commonly seen in both children and youth [1]. Nail-biting is a disease like other habits which include hair twisting, tooth grinding, thumb-sucking, nose-picking, and picking at skin. [2][3] Nail-biting includes biting the soft tissue around the nail as well as biting the nail itself. Boredom, Excitement, Fear, Stress and other emotional disorders are the main causes of onychophagia.

Long term biting causes suffering, as a self-punishment which is more painful. The need to bite or eat fingernails are related to emotional state of anxiety. Extreme nail-biting may also leads to short nails, bleeding around the nails, pain around the nail buds, damaged skin around the nail and tip of fingers, hard bumps. The ten fingernails are usually equally bitten to the same level.[4] Nail-biting can be a source of guilt and shame feelings in the nail biter, a reduction in there lifestyle, and increased pressure / embarrassment n the inner family circles or at a more societal level [2][5].

Modern treatments and measures like manicure are there for the chronic nail biters. The most commonest and cheap treatment is applying a clear and bitter nail-polish, in which the bitter taste will discourage the nail-biting habit. [6] Another treatment for chronic nail biters is the usage of a dental deterrent device that prevents the front teeth from damaging the nails and the surrounding cuticles.After about two months, the device leads to a full oppression of the nail biting urge [7]. Nail cosmetics can help to ameliorate nail biting social effects. [8] In children, it can also be a easily learned behaviour from there family members and neighbours. So parental advices regarding good and bad habits to there kids are most needed. [2] [9] Moreover the persons self-control is the only way to quit nail biting completely to note the situations in which people do nail biting and to create awareness among South Indian Population.


A group of nail biters were selected and examined with the questionnaire prepared about the situations in which they often follow the habit of nail biting. The information collected through the survey is analysed and presented in statistics. This was an online survey undertaken by using the link


Hundred and seven people were examined during the survey. Out of which 52 people are Chronic nail biters and the rest do nail biting in only certain situations. People often bite there nails without there own conscious and in it 64% of the people does this in there Boredom’s and excitement [10][11]. Mostly, about 82% of the people in the survey were aware of the dangers and side effects of Onychophagia. The most easiest and quickest way to quit nail biting is by using bitter nail polishes, which’s taste will discourage the person to stop nail biting [12]. 57 out of 107 People were not aware of the product. The most surprising event noted in the survey was, majority of the people stop themselves from biting there nails in front of young people and especially kids, aiming not to influence the growing generation towards a bad habit [13]. It is also noted that more than 50% of the participants have experienced stomach ache and dental problems because of nail biting, from which it is clear that nail-biting can harm our body in any situation [14].

Nail biting is related to the oral problems, which includes malocclusion of the anterior teeth and gingival injury [2][15]. Stomach ache is experienced by the individual who sucks the dirt around and swallow the bitten nails, which is apparently an most dangerous act followed by many chronic nail biters. When the current study is compared with the research of Avesh Sachan and TP Chaturvedi’s, “Onychophagia (Nail biting), anxiety, and malocclusion,” it is observed that the past studies view on the physical Illnesses like Malocclusions, Stomach aches and gingival injuries co relates with the current study on the situations on onychophagia [16]. And when the current survey was compared with the research of Ahmad Ghanizadeh’s, “ Nail Biting; Etiology, Consequences and Management”, it is recorded that about 60% of the children do nail when they are nervous and scared, which coincides with the current study by about 45% [2][17].

The rate of depression among children matches around 74.5% in Ahmad Ghanizadeh’s research, “Association of nail biting and psychiatric disorders in children and their parents in a psychiatrically referred sample of children”, whereas in the current study it is noted to be about 47.6% among the growing kids [18]. CONCLUSION From the surveys analysis it is noted that, 87.8% of the people wanted to quit nail biting permanently and they do have tried quitting it by following prevention methods, but ended up as failed attempts and continued with there biting habits again. Children are getting easily attracted to some bad behaviours and they are making them as their influence, which allows the kid to continue with the bad habits.

Hence, parental and guardians advices are most required for the young kids. For the adult chronic biters, they are preventive methods like daily meditation, applying bitter nail polishes, manicuring and making nails beautiful, so which people give more importance to beauty rather than biting and also technical methods like wearing Dental deterred devices, which is one most useful way to avoid nail biting among kids. So, above all, the individual with determination and self control can only find a permanent way to quit this Nail-Biting habit completely.

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