Why People Bite Their Nails and How to Stop
Do you bite your nails?
Are you a nail biter?
Causes for Nail-Biting
There are many different causes for onychophagia, or nail-biting. One is that it is a learned behavior, but it is more commonly done due to stress, boredom, excitement, or compulsion. Most of the time, those who bite their nails don't even realize that they are doing it. This is because nail-biting may occur alongside other body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRB), which include pulling hair or picking at skin.
Nail-biters come in all ages, although it is commonly stopped after around the age of 30. It is difficult to decide on just one cause for why people bite their nails. What most nail-biters don't realize is that what they're doing is really bad for them. This habit can cause infections in the mouth or around the nail bed, give you red or sore fingertips, and cause your cuticles to bleed. Furthermore, long-term nail-biting can affect how nails grow and cause them to become deformed.
There are plenty of ways to work to stop biting nails, some of which are listed below. If you or someone you know is a nail-biter, perhaps one of these suggestions can help you or them cut this nail-biting compulsion for good. Keep in mind, it really is a lot easier said than done. I've been a nail-biter for years on and off. Trying to stop requires patience but, in the end, it's worth it for your own health and well being.
Are you a recovering addict?
Have you successfully stopped chewing your nails? How?
Facts About Nail-Biting
- More boys chew their nails than girls.
- Half of children between 10 and 18 years are nail-biters, usually during puberty.
- Although some adults around 18-22 years old do it, nail-biting usually stops after age 30.
Ways to Help Stop Nail-Biting
1. Start taking care of your nails
This can mean that you just keep them clean, trimmed, and filed, but it could also include getting a manicure. The more you focus on taking care of your nails, the less likely you are to start biting and destroying them again. As a nail-biter, this has been the most successful way for me to stop chewing my nails.
2. Try to destress yourself
If you're the kind of nail-biter who does it because of anxiety or stress, then try doing things to help manage that so that you can avoiding biting your nails. Some examples would be exercise or a warm non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drink. Simply getting enough sleep can also help.
3. Make 'em taste gross
This one hasn't been the most effective for me but it's pretty popular for most people so I'm sure it's quite effective. Using Thum or hot sauce are the most common remedies that I've heard of. The only downside is the stuff comes off quick when you wash your hands and whatnot all day, so you have to remember to reapply it. This is where it fails me because it's so much easier for me to just keep biting my nails.
4. Give yourself a negative reaction
I actually read somewhere where it was suggested to wear a rubber band around your wrist and so whenever you started chewing you could snap it. Eventually, you'll just subconsciously know that chewing nails leads to a negative reaction. Kind of similar to the suggestion above except it sounds a little crazier and, to me, seems less effective. Could work though, so if you think it will, give it a try.
5. Distract your hands
Get a new hobby like learning to play the piano or some other musical instrument. Play videogames, or knit. If you're a hubber, write more and chew less!
6. Get a tongue ring
Not a completely serious suggestion but at the same time, it's been proven by many a nail-biter who has gotten this piercing. Their ability to keep their mouth busy with their tongue ring has helped them kick the nail-biting habit for good. Another crazy suggestion but one that might just work.
7. Wear a reminder
Put a bandaid, sticker, or bracelet on so that you know not to chew your nails.
8. Stop biting, one nail at a time
If it seems like a daunting task to go cold turkey, try just protecting one nail at a time from your own urges to destroy them. They'll all eventually get long and beautiful and, before you know it, you'll have cut the habit.
9. Distract your mouth
Eat something like a carrot, chew gum, suck on ice, or do whatever else may come to mind to keep your mouth too busy to bite those nails.
10. Cover them up
If all else fails, fake nails or a pair of gloves can help to cover up those nails so you can't get to those suckers at all.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2012 Lisa