[Self-Test] Nail Biting Disorder: Symptoms of Onychophagia in Children
Concerned about your child’s nail-biting habit? Take this test to see if your child may be showing signs of onychophagia, a treatable body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB).
Nail biting is a common behavior that typically begins in childhood. For most children, nail biting is a harmless habit. A small portion of children, however, exhibit chronic and compulsive nail biting. They bite their fingernails, cuticles, and skin surrounding their nails to the point of bleeding and soreness. They also continue to engage in nail biting despite its consequences to health, functioning, and wellbeing.
Nail biting disorder, also known as onychophagia, is a body-focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) — a self-grooming, self-soothing behavior that is difficult to control or stop. Children with BFRBs often deal with other co-occurring conditions, including anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).1 2 3
Chronic nail biting, especially if untreated, can lead to health complications like dental problems, recurring infections, and permanent damage to the nails.4 Children with nail-biting disorder may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their condition, and may struggle to attend school and other social settings as a result.
Answer the questions below to see if your child may be showing signs of onychophagia. Share your results with your child’s pediatrician or a licensed mental health professional.
This self-test, drafted by ADDitude editors, is informed in part by criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and research findings on onychophagia. (See sources section below for more information.) This self-test is designed to screen for the possibility of onychophagia, and it is intended for personal use only. This self-test is not intended as a diagnostic tool.
Can’t see the self-test questions above? Click here to open this test in a new window.
Nail Biting Disorder in Children: Next Steps
- BFRB Self-Test: Skin-Picking Disorder Symptoms in Children
- BFRB Self-Test: Hair-Pulling Disorder in Children
- Read: Raising a Child with BFRBs — A Guide for Parents
View Article Sources
1 Ghanizadeh A. (2008). Association of nail biting and psychiatric disorders in children and their parents in a psychiatrically referred sample of children. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 2(1), 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/1753-2000-2-13
2 Gu, L., Pathoulas, J. T., Widge, A. S., Idnani, A., & Lipner, S. R. (2022). Exacerbation of onychophagia and onychotillomania during the COVID-19 pandemic: a survey-based study. International Journal of Dermatology, 61(11), e412–e414. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijd.16395
4 Lee, D. K., & Lipner, S. R. (2022). Update on Diagnosis and Management of Onychophagia and Onychotillomania. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(6), 3392. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19063392