Parenting Vivian | 05 Aug 2010 03:39 am

Can Nail Biting Bring Long Term Damage to My Child’s Health?

Nail biting in children can be a somewhat delicate subject. When I first started noticing my child was biting his nails, I was worried that this bad habit could bring long term damage to his health. To make the story short, it doesn’t. As long as the nail bed remains intact, the nail will keep on growing normally. However nail biting can worsen other conditions.

Nail biting can worsen conditions such as paronychia, a nail disease caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. It can also produce the appearance of warts around the nail bed, and what can be dangerous: passing bacteria and fingers to the mouth. Why is it dangerous? As you know children tend to play everywhere: on the ground, the street, and other places that are full of diverse bacteria.

What can you do about it?

You have to talk to your child in a positive way. Ensure that he or she doesn’t feel punished; instead talk to your kid about what could trigger such behavior. This is the first and most important step towards getting rid of child nail biting. Then take as a parent preventive action:

-Teach your kid to wash their hands after playing in dirty places.

-Keep your kid’s nails trimmed.

-Have a toy or another thing at hand to distract him when he starts biting his nails.

-Build confidence and a strong relationship with your child.

These actions should help you dealing in a positive way with child nail biting. In any case, try to control your ‘punishing behavior’ (Saying NO, threatening, or grabbing his hands) this can all lead to a reinforcement of the same habit you want to eradicate.

So, you see. Although it is true that nail biting ‘per se’ cannot bring long term damage to the health of your child, it can worsen conditions that could pose a threat to your kid’s health. Good luck helping your kid.

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