We often bite our nails when we’re scared, nervous, bored or anxious. In the middle of a movie or an intensive match, you may find yourself unconsciously biting your nails, but just when does this nail biting habit get obsessive and destructive? Research suggests nail biting often starts in childhood- sixty percent of children and forty-five percent of teenagers bite their nails. It usually settles down after age eighteen, but many times it may continue into adulthood.
Why do we bite our nails?
There’s no single answer to why we bite our nails. Anxiety, boredom, frustration and loneliness are often cited as reasons why adults develop the nail biting habit. It is a way to keep at least one part of your body busy while your mind lacks interest. Sometimes it is said that genes might play a role. However, certain underlying psychological problems may also trigger the nail biting addiction. Many times, nail biting is a sign of a deeper problem within. Consult a mental health professional if repeated attempts at cosmetic solutions have failed- conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, separation anxiety disorder are often associated with nail biting.
Nail-biting can cause your fingers to become red and sore. Extreme nail biting may often cause the area around your nails to bleed and get infected. On the same lines, eating with these fingers can make you more susceptible to infections through bacteria and virus that’s transferred from your fingers to your mouth. Needless to say, nail biting causes unsightly nails that pose an embarrassing social situation. It may also harm your teeth.
Nail biting solutions
Use a nail biting polish
Coat your nails with a nail biting polish. Most people hate the bitter taste and gradually give up the habit. You may alternatively also coat your nails with clear polish.
Cover your nails
Cover your nails with nail polish instead. Choose a dark color like red or black that will look strikingly bad if chipped off- so you might keep yourself away from biting into them. Alternatively, wear fake nails, so your real nails underneath are downright inaccessible.
Get regular manicures
Not only will it help to keep your nails looking beautiful and neat, spoiling something over which you have spent money doesn’t come easily. It is sure to help you curb your nail biting instinct.
Keep them short
Wear your nails short. Keep them neatly trimmed all the time to allow yourself a minimum chance of biting into something.
Try alternative techniques to manage stress
If you feel that stress or anxiety is causing your nail biting habit, try to identify the source of stress. Alternatively, take to other stress-relieving, healing remedies like Yoga and meditation, deep breathing or even squeezing a stress ball etc.
Use nail biting gloves or nail biting finger covers
Wrap up your nails in a bandage, or get yourself some nail biting finger covers. Using gloves is also a good idea. Not only will the idea of discomfort keep your nail biting urge at bay, you also wouldn’t want to look silly during summers!
Find a healthier or at least no-impact habit to replace your nail biting habit
Some people clasp their hands, twiddle their thumbs or drum their fingers to distract themselves from biting their nails. Keep a coin in your pocket or some putty/clay that you can reach out for and play with whenever you have the urge to bite your nails.
Keep your hands and mouth busy in other ways
Taking up a hobby that involves the hands is the best idea. Knitting, Crocheting, painting, nail care, and decoration or pottery etc. are some of the things you can take up. Besides keeping you gainfully engaged, they will ensure you have less scope to bite your nails with your hands busy all the time.
Maintain a healthy diet
Many times, nail biting is seen to be a response to a lack of calcium and magnesium in the body. Maintain a healthy diet including eggs, soy, whole grains apples, cucumbers, grapes, onion, and garlic to ensure healthy nail growth. Eat lots of calcium-rich foods to help your nails grow and give your body what it needs.
Try to understand what situations or feelings trigger your nail biting
Being mindful of what causes your nail biting can help you to consciously avoid triggers or distract yourself when faced with triggers. For example, you may notice that you bite your nails when you watch TV- once you know this, be more mindful every time you sit in front of your TV and try keeping your hands and mouth distracted with something else. If you think stress is causing your nail biting, try other techniques like meditation etc.