Trim Or Manicure Your Nails Often
Long nails may be hard to resist, so keeping them trimmed is a good idea. Set a particular day and time every week for your trim, and take care of hangnails and ragged edges so youre not tempted to bite them.
Another option is to get regular professional manicures. Spending the money and knowing that someone is going to check your nails soon may keep you from reverting to the habit.
Choose only licensed salons and manicurists who properly sterilize tools, so as to prevent fungal nail infection.
What Causes You To Bite Your Nails In The First Place
Nail-biting is known in medical circles as ‘onychophagia,’ and the cause has been extensively studied.
‘Many studies have concluded that nail-biting arises from anxiety or being in a nervous state. Situations that cause fear, boredom, or pain are also correlated with fingernail biting,’ says Ekta.
‘Fingernail biting may give children a sense of relief in response to these types of internal emotional turmoil.’
The general consensus is that there is no one particular cause for nail-biting. Its something that tends to start in childhood, with some outgrowing the habit whilst others dont.
‘Many research authors believe that nail-biting is a learned habit rather than an emotional condition and many may learn it from their parents as we tend to mimic behaviours around us,’ adds Ekta. Thanks mum and dad.
Try A Bit Of Bitter Gourd
Bitter gourd is a vegetable commonly used in Asian cuisine hailed for its naturally bitter taste.
Also known as bitter squash or bitter melon, this vegetable is very potent when used on its own.
Its bitter taste is sure to put you off biting your nails, leaving a gag-worthy taste in your mouth if you choose to get nibbling.
You can either crush bitter gourd, apply the juices on your nails and leave to dry, or find a pre-prepared bitter gourd nail-biting treatment in the shops.
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In My Late Teens I Discovered I Had Excoriation Disorder
As a child, I was a nailbiter, a cuticle-biter, a biter of pretty much anything I could put in my mouth pens, headphones, the feet of a limited edition Victoria Beckham Barbie. I began picking my fingers as well as biting them in my early teens.
A cursory Google search in my late teens led me to discover that I had Excoriation Disorder, a body-focused repetitive behavior , a category which also includes hair-pulling and nail-biting.
Dr Fred Penzel, Ph.D., a psychologist from Huntingdon, New York, told Insider: “I believe that people carry out BFRBs as a way of regulating levels of stimulation within their central nervous systems.
“The behaviours give them stimulation when they are understimulated and reduce levels of stimulation when they are overstimulated .
“Beyond that, we still don’t really understand what is actually happening on the neural level.”
Penzel is member of the TLC Foundation for body-focused repetitive behaviours, an organization dedicated to sharing knowledge, treating, and finding a cure for these disorders.
A large patient study is also currently underway in the US to discover what causes these disorders and work out the best way to treat them.
Pick Up A Habit That Keeps Your Hands Busy Like Knitting:
“I was a chronic nail biter for 26 years. I initially starting biting my nails due to anxiety, but it ended up being a habit that was so automatic I didnt even realize when I was doing it. What helped me the most doing hobbies that kept my hands and mind busy like cross stitching and knitting. I would become immersed in finishing a project that had such instant gratification. Before I knew it, I couldnt remember the last time I bit my nails.”
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Bring Out The Vinegar
This bitter-tasting ingredient is probably ready and waiting in your kitchen cupboard to help put an end to your nail-biting woes!
Whether its malt, apple cider or wine vinegar, dilute a few drops into water and dip your fingernails into it .
Let it dry naturally on your nails and serve as a pongy reminder to stop biting your nails.
Enlist The Help Of Friends
Dont be afraid to ask for help. Enlist the assistance of those you love to help get you through. Research shows that teaming up with a friend to reach a goal can increase your chances of succeeding by 95 percent.
Ask friends and family to call you out if they see you start to bite your nails, or encourage them to cheer you on. Better yet, find a friend who also wants to stop biting their own nails and make a pledge to help each other.
I once had a client who told her boyfriend she was struggling with nail-biting and wasnt even aware of it most of the time, Smerling said. When she was with him, he helped her pull her hand away from her mouth whenever she started to bite. Eventually, she became more aware of the behavior and didnt need his help. It all starts with awareness, a serious commitment to stop and constantly practicing every day to get better.
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Ask Your Friends And Family To Help
You may not notice youre biting your nails as often as you are, and once you do the damage is often already done.
One thing you can do is ask the people around you to remind you not to bite your nails you choose how cruel or kind you want them to be.
This not only gives you accountability and a better visibility of your nail-biting habit, but it also gives you the support to help you stop.
Make Them Smell And Taste Bad
Apply your nails with something that has terrible taste or odor. These would make you think twice before biting and could help you stop when youre doing it.
Some suggestions include olive oil and garlic, and aloe gel and neem oil. You can also add something that would hurt your tongue or something sour . There are also nail polishes with a bitter flavor.
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Is Nail Biting Actually That Bad
Heres the thing: Some viruses live on surfaces and when we touch those spots and then touch our eyes, nose, or mouths, we run the risk of helping those germs get into our bodies, Philip Tierno, Ph.D., microbiologist and clinical professor of pathology at NYU Langone, previously told SELF. Its not a given that biting your nails will make you sick more frequently than those who dont, but putting your fingers in your mouth isnt doing your immune system any favors.
But even if youre not thinking about germs, biting your fingernails can also cause damage to your nail bed, the Mayo Clinic explains. This can leave tiny cuts that put you at greater risk for bacteria and fungus to hang out and cause infections, the Mayo Clinic says. Biting your fingernails can also potentially damage your teeth, according to the Mayo Clinic. All of that means its best to keep your fingernails out of your mouth. So, how to do that you may wonder?
Avoid Making The Habit Worse
Calling too much attention to your childs bad habits is likely to backfire and their nail-biting may get even worse. Punishing your child or embarrassing them for biting their nails also wont be effective in helping them change their habits.
Help your child manage their nail-biting but dont get too wrapped up in making them stop. Yelling or telling them that they’re gross wont help.
Skip the lengthy lectures about all the reasons why putting their fingers in their mouth is disgustingthat isn’t likely to work either.
Helping your child put an end to biting their nails will be much more effective if they’re on board with the plan. If they’re not particularly motivated to quit, your efforts aren’t likely to be successful. So, be patient with them and if they’re not interested in stopping, you may need to wait until they are.
You might broach the subject from time to time by saying something like, “I notice you bite your nails a lot. Do kids at school ever seem to notice?” Mentioning that other people might see them doing this might make them a bit more aware of others perceive them.
Similarly, you might ask them, “It looks like your fingers get sore sometimes when you bite your nails so much. Do you ever wish you didn’t do that?”
If your child is invested in giving up the habit, work together on coming up with a plan to help them. They might say they want a specific reward if they can grow their nails long enough that you can have to cut them .
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Whats Wrong With Biting My Nails
Crunch, crunch, crunch. Do you bite your nails? Some kids and adults do this, especially when theyre feeling nervous. But its not a healthy habit.
Your fingernails have a couple of big jobs to do. They protect your fingertips and make it easier for you to pick up tiny things, like loose threads. They also come in handy when you have an itch that needs scratching.
But when you bite your nails, your nails arent there to do those things. And by biting them, you are breaking the skin and maybe bringing germs into these openings in your skin. In fact, some people bite their nails and cuticles down so far, they bleed! When germs invade, they can get an infection.
Speaking of germs, there are germs under your fingernails, so when you bite them, those germs can go into your mouth. Think about all the icky stuff you touch all day long, like your baby sisters drool-dripping pacifier, your stinky gym socks, or slimy earthworms for your science project. You dont want those nasty germs getting in your mouth.
If you want to stop biting your nails, good for you! Because nail biting is a habit, you may not realize you are doing it. Ask your parents, other family members, or friends to tell you if they notice you biting your nails.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MDDate reviewed: October 2013
Note: All information on KidsHealth is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
My Fingers Were Constantly Painful Swollen And Bleeding Alice Johnston
For me, the urge to pick feels like an impossible-to-ignore sensation, similar to a sneeze. When I peel back a piece of skin, drawing blood, I feel satisfied. I wait maybe three seconds, then start doing it again. All day, every day, often without noticing.
“Long-term effects of Excoriation Disorder could include scarring and deformation of the fingertips,” Dr Penzel said. “Damaging infections can also result.
“Psychologically, when damage is serious, it can cause stigmatization and social embarrassment, not to mention pain.”
For years, this was just how my fingers were constantly, throbbingly painful. Squeezing a lemon was torture. I couldn’t wear white clothes, because the blood left trails where I brushed my hands over the fabric.
I was never ashamed, but I didn’t understand my mind’s drive to hurt myself. My partners and family hated it, going so far as to smack my hands away from my mouth when they saw that I’d begun to bite.
But it turns out I’m not alone.
“This disorder could involve as many as 4% of the population, and would therefore be considered common,” according to Dr. Penzel.
43-year-old artist Liz Atkin knows the unbearable urge to pick only too well.
“I’ve been picking at the skin all over my body since I was six,” she told Insider. “I didn’t know how to stop, I didn’t know that anyone else did it, I didn’t even know it was a disorder until I was in my thirties.
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Q: How Do People Stop Biting Nails
A: Doctors classify chronic nail biting as a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder since the person has difficulty stopping. People often want to stop and make multiple attempts to quit without success. People with onychophagia cannot stop the behavior on their own, so its not effective to tell a loved one to stop. While you want whats best for them, reprimanding only reinforces their feelings of being flawed. It can make someone feel worse and further fuel the behavior. With repeated effort and self-care, people can get closer to recovery. We usually recommend a combination treatment approach that includes:
Foolproof Ways To Stop Biting Your Nails For Good
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Lets face it: Nail biting is a bad habit.
But if this is a habit that you have, you’ve likely noticed that it isn’t easy to stop.
Nail biting is common in children and teenagers. In fact, it is the most common nervous habit worldwide, and its a popular habit among adolescents because the teen years can be especially stressful, and stress can manifest itself through nail biting. But there are also numerous adults who bite their nails in times of stress as their coping mechanism.
Although nail biting is generally considered a minor bad habit, and some might say it is not as gross as picking your nose in public, habitual nail biting can certainly reveal a persons emotional state. It is considered one of the indicators of some mental health disorders, including ADHD.
This habit can make the fingernails grow in a strange way. In the long term, nail biting can cause damage to the teeth by chipping the tooth enamel, which can lead to cracks or even breakage.
Side bar: One simple health habit you can build is to drink this superfood green drink, which gives you a boost of energy and supplies your body with the nutrients it needs to get through the day.
What You Will Learn
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I Can See A Future Where My Fingers Are Unblemished
Faced with losing something that had comforted and calmed me for years, I struggled. Before, I’d been able to redirect any nervous picking energy towards my thumbs, but now I was trying to stop completely.
My thumbs are vastly better than they were a year ago, but they still have some small scars, especially when I’m tired or stressed.
I had a glorious two months this summer of entirely healed hands, and I can see a future for myself where my fingers are unblemished.
I’m hugely proud of myself but sometimes I look at my hands and believe they belong to somebody else.
Create A New Healthier Habit
Like every habit, nail biting is a tough one to quit, so replacing it with a healthy one can be a good tactic!
Try introducing regular snacks of crunchy carrot, cucumber and apple sticks as they can replicate the crunch they get when biting their nails.
A small stress ball or some silly putty can work in the same way, giving your child something else to focus on when theyre feeling fidgety or worried.
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Up To 50 Percent Of Adults Habitually Bite Their Nails How Can It Be Changed
The bad habit of nail-biting is much more common than you might think.
Some studies have found that about one-quarter of children bite their nails habitually others say it may peak at almost 45 percent in adolescence .
More surprisingly, the prevalence amongst adults may be just as high, with some estimates at 50 percent . I had no idea it was potentially that highI guess it’s a habit that people hide well from others.
Nail-biting is certainly something that has emerged as a hot topic as I’ve been speaking to people about my new book. As I don’t specifically cover it there, although the general techniques I describe are applicable, here’s my eight-step guide based on the psychological research available:
1. It seems obvious, but you’ve got to want it.
It might seem redundant to say, but any change has to be desired, really desired. And for such a simple behavior, nail-biting is surprisingly hard to quit, perhaps partly because it doesn’t feel like that big a deal, and our hands are always with us. This is especially a problem if you are trying to change someone else’s behavior.
One method for boosting motivation is to think carefully about the positive aspects of changing the habit: for example, attractive-looking nails and a sense of accomplishment.
Also, make the negative aspects of nail-biting as dramatic as possible in your mind. If you tend to think it’s no big deal, then you’re unlikely to make the change.
2. Do not suppress.
3. Instead, replace bad with good .
Strategically Limit Which Nail You Can Bite Or Pick:
“I was going trough a really stressful time and my nails were paying the price they were hurting and bleeding all day everyday. One day, my therapist came up with this idea she told me pick a finger out of blue and she didnt tell me the reason. I chose my little finger on my right hand for no reason. And she told me from now on that is the only finger you can bite. This may sound foolish but all of my fingers were in horrible condition, so I think this was clever and after a while, it worked and I havent bitten my nails for five years!”
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Both Awareness And Guilt Enabled Me To Stop
It was the awareness and subsequent guilt from picking and biting which enabled me to stop. I was in therapy, which allowed me to sit more comfortably within myself and take stock of my life, and I found that my picking was becoming less involuntary.
It started bothering me that I was uncontrollably inflicting such horrible wounds on myself. As a first step towards stopping, I forbade myself from injuring my third fingers, my least damaged. The rest were still fair game.
Amazingly, they healed completely within a couple of days. Emboldened, and thrilled by how perfect two of my fingers now looked, I set my middle and then my little fingers as out of bounds also.
This gradual approach combined with ongoing therapy for non-finger-related matters worked. It was like I was reprogramming my brain to not touch that part of my hands any more.
I had previously been too grossed out by my fingers to get manicures, but I found getting gels meant I didn’t want to ruin the untouched look of my nails, and I directed any picking urges to my thumbs and index fingers.
Plasters were an incredibly useful tool, too, as I began taping up my index fingers so I couldn’t see or access them. This allowed them to heal, and I found it much easier to not touch them if there was no rough skin to pick at. Soon, only my thumbs remained.
Atkin also found relief in redirecting her urges.
Finding that she often picked while travelling, Atkin began drawing while commuting.