Prevalence of Nail Biting
The literature states that nail biting (onychophagia) is a very common occurrence in children. It is said that at the end of preschool age, 33% of children of both sexes bite their nails, and at puberty the frequency of this neurosis rises to 40-45% (Sears R.: “Survey of objective studies of psychoanalytic concepts”, New York, 1943., Bakwin H. R.: “Behavior disorders in children”, London, 1960.).
Lower Prevalence in Author’s Patients
In the children, we do not notice that nail biting is so common. Of the dispensary patients, only 2.9% of boys and 7.1% of girls show this symptom of neuroticism.
Occurrence and Disappearance of Nail Biting
Nail biting is observed from the second year of life, and throughout childhood. In most cases, it disappears spontaneously during adolescence.
Lack of Specific Causes for Nail Biting
There are no specific causes for this neurosis. It is a sign that the child is mentally tense, upset, scared, angry, in short, that he is obsessed with an emotion that he is trying to hide, suppress, because he does not dare to show it openly, so he exploits it by biting his own nails. And this neurosis is therefore a sign that the child is suffering mentally because of something.