Do You Remember Exactly When You Picked Your Nails
Do you pick your nails so often that at the end of the day, you cant specifically recall doing it? Often Id look at my nails and could see they were shorter than hours earlier but I honestly couldnt even remember picking them that day even though I clearly had.
Tip: Write down when you catch yourself picking or biting your nails if you have to. Some people put a little felt pen marking on their nail just above the nail bed after they catch themselves doing it just to nip it in the bud so to speak. Every time they look at the markings on their fingers, they learn more about when and how frequently their pick/bite and that can help to quit.
Perhaps journalling your activity will draw more attention to it and help you quit. If you keep a journal on your phone or in a book and write down the time and reason you bit or picked your nails, it could help you learn more about why its happening which can improve the chance you quit.
At a minimum it should help to help you learn more about your behavior and get it out in the open.
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:
Make Your Nails Taste Bad
If something tastes bad, youre not going to want to put it in your mouth, right? Try applying this to your fingernails.
Not only can it help you associate the habit with something negative, it can also put a stop to absent-minded nail biting because sometimes you wont even realise youre biting your nails until its too late.
There are many nasty-tasting formulas on the market already that you can paint onto your nails, butheres some natural ways to help make those nails un-bitable:
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Health & Wellnesscan’t Stop Biting Your Nails An Over
Dylan also kept track of the thoughts she had whenever she felt anxious, which Yip said can help change behavior. The “cognitive component” of habit replacement therapy focuses on positive self-talk, even after setbacks, and emphasizes identifying and recognizing tension and finding healthier ways to handle it instead of thinking about it negatively.
“If you’re thinking negatively, then you’re going to feel negatively, and more importantly you’re going to behave unproductively because what we do depends on what we think and how we feel,” Yip explained. “So in order to change the behaviors and to change the emotions we have to identify those thinking patterns you have that aren’t serving you. … We’re looking at solutions rather than problems.”
Dylan also replaced the picking with a different behavior, fidgeting with a pen or jewelry whenever she had the urge to pick.
Later in the process, Dylan began getting gel manicures, which worked as a preventative measure to keep her from picking at her nails. Yip said that these replacements and diversions can vary from person to person.
Dylan said that as she continued her journey, she became more aware of her behaviors.
“I’ll notice, just mindlessly, if I was about to go do something … but I’m very aware of it, so now I actively stop it,” she explained.
“The awareness piece is the most important piece,” said Yip. “Half the battle is knowing that. When you do it, how you’re doing it, what you’re thinking of when you’re doing it.”
What Are The Health Risks Associated With Biting Nails
Though nail-biting may seem like a harmless habit, there are a number of risks associated with the behavior mainly, but not limited to, various kinds of infections. “Nail biting can cause open or raw skin and those areas are exposed to bacteria in the mouth, potentially leading to skin infections,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at New York’s Mount Sinai Hospital. “These infections may become severe in some cases and can cause permanent nail disfiguration.”
Besides skin infections and nail deformities, other risks include damage to your teeth and even jaw problems in extreme cases. It’s also a major cleanliness issue, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic your hands and nailbeds can be a breeding ground for germs when you’re in public, and hand hygiene is crucial here. While it’s not believed that COVID-19 primarily spreads through inoculation , it’s always best to exercise caution while in public.
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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.
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Or Simpler Reusable Press
These’ll be especially great for the initial stages of your anti-nail biting journey when you’re simply trying to break yourself out of the habit. If you do like the polish or the press-ons, then these could also help reinforce those protections.
Promising review: “I bought this to avoid biting my nails and it works perfectly. You can keep doing everything including using your phones screen. My daughter was also delighted with these since shes an esthetician and they are awesome for her while working on extractions and facials.”
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Keeping A Dog From Biting Nails
If you have any reason to believe your dog is biting his or her nails due to a medical problem, its time to see your vet. If the problem is severe, your dog might be fitted with an Elizabethan collar until whatever is causing the problem clears up. If the issue is behavioral, see if your vet can recommend a specialist who can determine the best course of action to stop it.
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Stop Nail Biting Treatments
There are a number of treatments available to help children stop biting nails. Of these, I have personally found Mavala to be the most effective for my kids.
Usually treatments are harmless, bitter tasting substances that you paint directly onto the nails or rub onto the fingertips. The idea is simply that your child is reminded every time a finger goes in the mouth.
These treatments are very simple to use, and are particularly effective if your child wants to stop. If not, a persistent child might suck the treatment off no matter how horrible it tastes, in order to keep enjoying the nail biting. If this happens, you might need to look to some other ideas to help stop the habit.
Remember to reapply the treatment during the day as it wears off with hand washing and other activities. We have noticed that Mavala seems to stay on longer than other similar treatments we tried.
Aloe vera plant
Take Care Of The Emotions Below
Sometimes the trigger that causes you to stick your finger in your mouth is not physical. Heather Edwards, LMHC, is a New York-based psychotherapist who says that changing your environment won’t make a difference. For example, you can identify a physical prompt to bite your nails but not the thoughts or feelings you had just before.
“What was your inner monologue at this moment?” Edwards says that sometimes we use unhealthy coping strategies to cope with life. What did you think about the situation? Are you able to challenge your self-talk or train of thought? For example, you may find yourself anxiously reacting or grabbing your nails to cope with feelings and thoughts. What would be a better solution? Keeping your hands busy while dealing with anxiety and stress-related emotions can be challenging. However, it is possible to make things easier by being aware of these emotions in advance.
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What Worked For Me
Over the course of about six weeks I try a variety of strategies.
When I feel anxiety coming on through work , I try to take a deep breath. I stand up and do a stretch. Sometimes I even manage to do a quick meditation or go for a walk.
My instinct is to barrel my way through stressful situations and I think the nail-biting gives my body something to do with all the nervous energy that creates.
More often than not, I’m able to stop the biting by actively doing something else with my body instead.
I also put a few things in place to address my issues with the nails themselves. I keep a nail file at my desk so I can file chips and cracks away rather than bite at them. I also start using a hardening solution, so the nail doesn’t feel as soft and pliable when I start fidgeting.
The strategies aren’t foolproof. Over the six weeks, I have had small waves of success and failure. I’ve spent a lifetime developing this habit, so it’ll take more than six weeks to break but the overall trend is looking good.
“Patience is key,” Dr Gunatheesan says. “If you’ve really chomped it down all the way, nails will take a good two to three months to grow out.”
So, for now, I’m taking this as a win.
“It’s not a problem of lacking willpower or motivation,” Dr Rehm says, reassuringly. “There’s many, many other factors that come into play .
“If it was easy to combat then people wouldn’t do it.”
Youve Got To Want To Quit
This was the one thing that stuck out for me when I finally quit nail biting and picking:
Youve got to want to stop biting and picking your nails otherwise you wont.
Nail biting isnt like drinking excessively, eating too much or smoking and trying to quit or at least cutting back in the case of the first two problems:
- You dont need to buy anything to bite your nails. You just do it.
- You can do it pretty much anytime and anywhere.
- Outwardly there appears to be no long term negatives to biting and picking nails. There are plenty of long term health problems related to tooth, mouth, and stomach health but at the time were biting our nails, these side effects dont seem like a problem so there is no incentive to quit.
- Its easy to quit. And start again. And bite your nails for many years and never even try to quit again.
- We tend not to receive help to quit nail biting. No ads on tv for Nail Biters Anonymous or a patch that we put on our hands to quit nail biting. We kind of have to do it ourselves.
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How To Stop Kids From Biting Their Nails
The last thing you want to do is hope that your child grows out of this habit. If you dont take care of it while theyre young, its a habit your child may carry into their teens and adult life. Understanding why children bite their nails and how to address the habit will allow you to take the appropriate action at the appropriate time.
Take Your Teeth Into Consideration
You may have your dental hygiene routine down but biting your nails could be setting your mouth health back, bigtime.
Biting your nails can cause problems down the line like cracked and chipped teeth. Use this as motivation to stop biting your nails unless you really do want to go and sit in that dentist chair.
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Psychology Of Nail Biting
Many people bite their nails at some point, especially as children. Its a type of body-focused repetitive behavior that goes by the clinical name of onychophagia.
Theres a spectrum of nail biting. It can range from an occasional benign behavior to a deeply ingrained self-mutilative behavior.
Many people who begin biting their nails as children eventually outgrow the habit. For others, it becomes a lifelong habit that can be extremely difficult to quit.
Lets take a closer look at why people bite their nails, how to change the behavior, and when its time to see a doctor.
Nail biting typically begins in childhood and may accelerate during adolescence. Its not always clear why someone develops this particular habit, but once it starts, it can be difficult to manage.
Keep A List Of Your Urges
You can monitor your nail-biting triggers by keeping a physical record of how often you bite your nails. Although it sounds overwhelming, this may help you break your bad habit.
McMackin says that self-monitoring can help reduce destructive behavior. For example, it’s hard to write, type, and bite your nails simultaneously. You can log your nail-biting behavior and then reflect on it. Many people find that they can stop biting their nails at a specific time and change their behavior.
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Signs Of Emotional Or Mental Stress
People who tend to bite their nails engage in this behavior when they are under stress, which suggests that this condition is not strictly due to nervous habits.
Nail biting is associated with stress because the act of biting one’s nails has been known to reduce stress and tension. People who bite their nails on a regular basis do this when they feel nervous, stressed, or even hungry.
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Reward Each Little Victory
Who doesnt love a good sticker chart? They can be a fun and useful way to reward your child for not biting their nails.
Choose a time marker, e.g. day, half a day and give your child a sticker if they manage not to bite their nails during this time.
Once they have earned a specific number of stickers, give them an award like a trip to the cinema or a toy theyve had their eye on for a while.
Why Do Children Bite Their Nails
First things first, its useful to know why our children end up nibbling on their nails.
Like thumb-sucking, hair twisting and nose picking, nail biting is a common habit for children.
These behaviours are known as nervous habits although, confusingly, that doesnt actually mean your child is nervous.
Most children bite their nails when they are feeling bored or curious, to pass the time, to relieve stress or simply as a force of habit.
So, nail biting can be caused by a multitude of issues, and the most important thing is encouraging them to stop without it turning into an unhelpful nag-fest.
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How Your Doctor Can Help
If you have tried all these at-home methods with no luck, you may want to make an appointment with your doctor. For some people, nail biting may be a sign of a more serious psychological or emotional issue. Behavior therapy is another option that can help you. At your appointment, you can discuss your nail-biting habit with your doctor and ask for a referral to a therapist.
You should also contact your doctor if you notice any signs of infection on your fingers or nails. A dermatologist can help you heal your nails and fight any infection with medication or topical treatments.