What's hiding behind biting the nails?


People who suffer from anxiety, are unsealed and are not able to face their fears, but are looking for a way to reduce them. They are the main traits that define people who bite their nails, and which, according to the experts consulted by Efe, represents a way to "face a danger".

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From Greek onyx and phagia, onychophagy or nail-biting habit is a "sign of anxiety" that the person carries out as a way to combat it, according to the clinical psychologist and partner of the College of Psychologists of Madrid, Esteban Cañamares.

"It's like charging ourselves with energy to deal with an enemy," metaphorically justifies Cañamares, who also argues that this anxiety or "reaction to fear" is often channeled in most cases either by eating his nails or consuming more food than usual.

This "mania", considered a disorder of impulse control, is mainly suffered by adolescents, and less frequently adults, as ensured by the specialist in herpetiform dermatitis and celiac disease, Paloma Borregón.

Although most research suggests that the percentage of men biting their nails is higher, the dermatologist says the tendency to resort to treatment to prevent nail processing is higher in them than in them.

The risks of nail-biting

An infection occurs just by stretching a skin, but to cause permanent alteration it is necessary that the habit occurs in a "chronic way", according to the specialist.

"Biting your nails causes the jaw to take an unfavorable position for the joint," says dentist Pedro Javier Muñoz.

In addition to wear and tear on both the edge of the upper and lower incisors and damage the temporomandibular joint, i.e. the one that joins the jaw to the skull, the dentist warns that some of the enamel may also be lost as a result of this habit.

However, Muñoz nuances that for any damage to occur it is necessary that it "be repetitive and prolonged over time".

Experts agree that treating such impulses "is difficult," which is why there are multiple diagnoses ranging from nail polishing to taking "Serotonin inhibitors," such as psychopharmaceuticals, which control anxiety, although acetylcysteine is also used.

"At high doses, acetylcysteine regulates a brain mediator that decreases your urge to bite your nails," he adds.

The use of normal enamels does not work so as not to bite their nails because people do it the same, according to Borregón, who recommends having hands entertained and using gel enamels as they harden the nails and causes the individual to "not be able" to bite them.

In any case, the psychologist emphasizes that there are many "personal nuances" and therefore states that before the subject initiates treatment to stop eating his nails he must "discover his concerns or concerns".

Among the risks arising from this behavior, Dr. Borregón highlights two: irreversible alterations that prevent her from doing her function to the nail - that of protecting her fingers - and an increased risk of infection by "taking nails to the mouth".

"Whenever there is a wound, bacteria can take advantage of it to enter," she says, alluding to the transfer of bacteria from the mouth to the wound caused by the finger.