Different people use different ways to manage stress: some sleep, some eat, some shop, and some bite nails. Nail-biting (onychophagia) is the most typical nervous habit. This behavior can be performed because of nervousness, hunger or just boredom. Some can even bite nails while sleeping. Apart from the fact that after it the deformed nails look awful and it interferes with normal nail growth, nail biting can be dangerous. As it is hard to remove bacteria under the surface of the nail, these bacteria can easily get in the mouth. Nail-biting can result in infection, for example, gums infection. As the skin on the cuticle gets broken during nail-biting, it can bleed and becomes very susceptible to microbial and viral infections. Bitten fingertips can become painful.
Nail Biting Treatment
One can bite their nails even without realizing it. This is why sometimes it becomes a big problem to get rid of fingernail-biting habit. So, what can be done? There are several treatment measures that can help you to get rid of this habit.
- Take time and take care of your nails. It will motivate you to keep your nails neat and attractive and prevent from biting them.
- At home, if you are just having your free time, coat your nails with mustard (or another bad-tasting substance). So each time you start to bite your nails while you are watching TV or reading, you will feel its bitter taste and immediately stop. There are also bitter-tasting polishes, which can be applied and help the same way.
- Use stress-management techniques, if the reason of your nail-biting habit is stress.
- As nail-biting is often an emotional problem, so first try to resolve the underlying problem. This may help to get rid of the habit.
- Wearing artificial nails can also make you stop biting your nails.
- Another way to get rid of this habit is to substitute it with another activity, such as drawing or squeezing a stress ball.
- Wearing gloves or colored stickers on your nails whenever possible makes it possible to control the habit.
- An orthodontic measure of nail-biting treatment is also possible – wearing a retainer, which makes it impossible for the nail biter to sever their nail with their teeth.
- For some nail biters it is enough just to make a mental note to stop, such as to promise themselves, that, for example, starting from today they will never bite nails anymore.
Unfortunately these measures of the habit breaking can’t for sure be effective for everyone. Such people might need a behavioral therapy or some medications, like anti-depressants. But such cases need a qualified specialist, so first make an appointment with a doctor.