Why Bite Nails When You Can Help It? Know Why – And How – You Can Break This Habit

People can be defined by many things – education, character, inclinations, and eccentricities. While the first three facets fundamentally depend on the conscious decisions that we make, we cannot say the same thing about some of the quirks or eccentric habits that we have. One of the most common quirk known to people of different ages, status, and backgrounds is nail biting. Although medical experts suggest that most cases of nail biting are normal, there are certain considerations that demand a more serious sense of thought and management to help people stop biting nails.
stop picking nails

The Rationale Behind Nail Biting
Various theories and medical claims have been raised to deal with nail biting. The psychological aspect, however, has reaped the most similar premise in terms of explaining why you can’t stop biting your nails.

In the early stages of biting fingernails and biting cuticles, especially among children, the habit is perceived as an outlet of contained feelings of strain. In other instances, they may be an intuitive manifestation of hunger or a cloaked appetite for a certain food. Teens who are in the puberty stage and young adults below the age of 25 bite their nails for soothing reasons such as stress relief and tension management. In addition, lassitude, boredom, and inactivity also trigger them to bite their nails. Experts have also identified several environmental factors that generate nail biting habits. A child who is constantly in contact with a nail-biting adult is highly susceptible to imitating and developing the same tendencies.

In severe escalated cases when you reach the point where you simply can’t stop biting the nails on your fingers or your toes, and when you subconsciously do it regardless of the place or the occasion, then your nail biting habit may already be caused be a mental or emotional state, such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. In cases where OCD is the triggering factor, sufferers bite areas of their nails or their cuticles for extremely slight imperfections. Paradoxically, they end up deforming their nail beds even more.

In spite of all the grounds and causes of chronic nail biting, the habit is still deemed unwarrantable because the habit is in fact curable. At any rate, sufferers of nail biting should seek medical help if this unconventional habit goes beyond “normal” parameters, which are when it reaches the obsessive compulsion levels. Addressing the problem at its earlier stage would even be a smarter, more sensible approach.

What You Can Do About It
Why bite nails for the rest of your life when you can do something about it? Today, medical innovations and breakthroughs have been reached to address nail biting. In fact, the world’s first ever treatment facility for Onychophagia patients (chronic nail biting) has been launched in The Netherlands to counter the effects and reverse the habit. The founding of the Institute for Pathological Onychophagy (IPO) was in response to the estimated 2 million chronic nail biters in their country. There are, however, simpler and more practical methods formulated by medical experts as well as scientists to cure Onychophagia.

The most common treatments are nail biting creams or a specially formulated edible nail polish that leave a bitter taste on your fingertips and your nails when applied. The added benefit is that they also contain nutrients to help counteract the drawbacks of nail biting. The catch lies in the inconvenience of constantly having to reapply the cream or polish once the bitter taste caves in. Psychotherapies have also been presented in different techniques like HRT or Habit Reversal Training, Competing Response, and Stimulus Control (SC). HRT includes relaxed breathing and muscle response exercises, as well as other techniques that will help the person “unlearn” or reverse the habit of nail biting.

biting cuticles

Competing Response works by providing activities that will keep the hands occupied like knitting, playing musical instruments, beading, or fiddling with toys. The urge to chew is usually neutralized by letting the person chew on gums or encouraging him to have small, frequent feedings. Stimulus Control is another cognitive-behavior method where the triggering factor is directly addressed. For instance, when nail biting occurs only when the child or the person is alone, then having a constant figure like playmates, siblings, friends, or relatives is encouraged.

With all the possible remedies presented to sluice out the eccentric quirk of nail biting, neglecting the condition will be a far cry from by being a thoughtful and responsible individual. Apart from all the medical advancements, the psychotherapies, and the pharmaceutical innovations, the best antidote will always be the steadfast will and commitment of the person to stop biting nails and focus on having a holistic well-being through worthwhile hobbies and advantageous activities. A person armed with the drive to eliminate nail biting will be geared towards a better, healthier lifestyle.