Nail biting, also known as Onychophagia is a common habit, often associated with stress relief. People bite their nails for different reasons when they are stressed, bored, or excited. Most times, nail-biting is a learned behavior from parents.
Nail-biting is a common nervous habit, with other related addictions such as nose-picking, tooth grinding, thumb sucking, and hair-pulling. In some cases, people bite their nails subconsciously without even realizing it.
Other times, you may be engrossed in another activity like watching television, reading or talking on the phone, and then bite your nails unknowingly. The nail-biting act involves biting off the soft tissue and cuticle surrounding the nail and the nail itself.
Why Do You Bite Your Nails? Causes of Nail Biting
As you know, habits are quite challenging to break. There are many reasons why you bite your nails. Some of these include nervousness or anxiety and boredom, or idleness. You may not even realize you eat your fingers until you decide to get a manicure, and your nails are too short.
Regardless of why you bite your nails, nail-biting can be stopped. Typically, nail-biting begins at the age of 4, but it is noticed between 4 and 6 years for some. Nail-biting may be gender-based as boys have a higher tendency to bite their nails than girls.
That is to say; you may have begun nail-biting as early as during childhood. For some, this is a habit they take to adulthood. You may not see anything wrong with nail chewing, but dermatologists are of a different opinion. They suggest that nail-biting can cause severe and dangerous issues for you. We'll address these problems as we go on.
Teens and kids make up for a higher percentage of people who bite their nails. Many don't grow past this habit. As an adult, if you bite your nails, it just means you did it as a kid, and you never stopped.
Do you know that you may have the habit of nail chewing because your parents did the same? Although this is not scientifically proven, it has been observed there's a tendency for children whose parents bite their nails to do the same. This study shows that this occurs even if parents stop nail-biting before the birth of their children.
Nail-biting is also a sign of mental or emotional stress. You tend to see this trait in people who are feeling down, anxious, or nervous. They bite their nails as an alternative way to cope with their emotions and feelings. Hunger, boredom, or insecurity are other reasons why people bite their nails. Many cases of nail-biting are subconscious - they do this without thinking.
How do you stop nail-biting?
Habits are not broken automatically. It takes conscious effort and commitment. You may not notice these changes overnight, but one step at a time, you can cut your nail-biting habit overtime.
Various treatment methods can help you stop nail-biting. The focus may be on behavior changes, while other times, you focus on the physical barriers to this.
- File your nails always. Nail care helps you reduce your bad nail-biting habit. Filing your nails and keeping them short encourages you to keep your nails neat.
- Polish your nails regularly, and males can use clear nail polish.
- Consider wearing artificial nails as it could help prevent the chewing of nails.
- If your nail-biting attitude is caused by anxiousness or stress, then you should try a stress-management technique.
- Coat your nails with substances that have a bitter taste, such as a bitter leaf. This will restrict you from biting and chewing your nails as you won't like the terrible taste.
- Try out other activities when you feel bored, and you are tempted to bite your nails. You can also chew gum instead of nail-biting; this will keep your mouth busy. With time you will get accustomed to it, and the tendency to bite your nails will significantly reduce.
- Consider wearing gloves, bandages, and stickers, which all serve as reminders that you do not want to eat your nails.
- Each time you bite your nails, snap a rubber band on your wrist to send a personal message to yourself that you are not supposed to bite your nails.
- Find your triggers by taking note of how you feel or what led to you biting your nails. Once you understand what made you bit your nails, you will try to avoid such, and this will help you cope with nail-biting.
After trying several methods and not making positive progress towards this lousy habit, discuss it with your doctor for medical advice. Your doctor will recommend the right therapy that will help you get rid of this issue.
Some of the notable risks of nail biting include:
- Changes in the way your nails look
- Infection or sore around the skin closer to the nails
- Damage to your nail cuticles
- Illnesses as a result of unclean and dirty fingers placed in the mouth
- Teeth damage from chewing of hard nails
Nail-biting long term effects
Don't get so worked up about this because nail-biting is not known to result in any long-term damage. However, note that it is not hygienic to bit your nails as it could predispose to bacteria’s, illnesses, and skin infections. You need to learn how to quit and prevent these health complications.
Nail-biting is more rampant among children than adults, especially when they have issues with their schoolmates, teachers, or friends. If you notice such propensity to nail-biting in your kid, discuss with them about their challenge. Also, children can overcome it on time when you make them understand what may cause it and help them to stop it. You should also choose the ideal withdrawal method from the list we have suggested earlier in this article.
I hope you find this article interesting and informative for you as regards to nail-biting? If yes, take note of the tips and suggested ideas to stop nail bitting today!