Is Your Child’s Nail-Biting Habit Ruining Their Digestion?

Many children go through having an upset stomach, often due to a common illness or from being emotionally upset. However, if your child is having frequent stomach issues and also bites their nails, it's possible that the two are connected. Here's what you need to know about your child's nail biting and how it may be affecting their digestion.

Introduction of Bacteria

Hands are notoriously covered with bacteria, and that's typically even more true of children. Children generally don't wash their hands as much as grown-ups do, and they also don't hold back putting their fingers in their mouths after touching something that's clearly dirty.

Unfortunately, this means that every time your child goes to bite their nails, there's a good chance that they're introducing bacteria into their body. This bacteria can cause problems for their gut. In fact, it's quite common to be exposed to fecal bacteria from biting nails or putting their hands in their mouth.

OCD

Before you decide to start punishing their child for their behavior, keep in mind that they may not be able to control themselves.

Nail biting is often a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. With an obsessive-compulsive disorder, the person suffering from it often feels an overwhelming urge to perform a destructive activity, like nail biting, and can't stop themselves. Your child may even derive comfort from biting their nails, much like they probably sucked a thumb at one point in their life.

Of course, that doesn't mean that your child can keep engaging in this behavior, so it's time to take things to a doctor.

Treatment

It's in your child's best interest to visit a pediatrician at a clinic like Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP for treatment for this problem.

First of all, your pediatrician will be able to run tests to determine if your child's stomach has a problem. They can even check to find out if your child has unhealthy bacteria in their gut, or if there's a shortage of healthy bacteria that are responsible and necessary for digestion.

If your child has a shortage of good bacteria, probiotics may be one easy way to get your child's stomach back on track. There are many reputable brands of probiotics for children these days, or you can talk to your child's pediatrician about altering their diet to introduce healthy bacteria naturally.

Finally, if your child's doctor believes that your child is suffering from OCD, they can help with that. Certain anti-anxiety medications and therapy can be useful in changing this behavior without scolding or chastising your child.

Nail biting can be a serious problem for digestion, even among little kids. If you know that your child has had repeated problems like stomach aches, throwing up, or diarrhea and you haven't seen a doctor yet, it's time to change that.


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