If you read these risks, you’ll never bite your nails

Don't let stress and anxiety give rise to your nail biting habit. Read here why you should stop biting your nails and ways to do so.
nail biting
Find reasons enough to avoid biting nails! Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Aayushi Gupta Published: 28 Apr 2022, 10:46 am IST
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Do you tend to bite your nails whenever you are stressed? It has been observed that many people with stress and anxiety problems, bite their nails in frustration. But nail biting is itself a very frustrating and unhealthy habit. Doing so can make your nails look awful and unfortunately it can even probably lead to some health issues. Let’s first understand the causes behind this condition and we’ll give you some solutions to avoid biting your nails.

Health Shots spoke to Dr Sonal Anand, Psychiatrist, Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, Mumbai to know what causes this strange habit and ways to stop it.

Here are reasons why do you bite your nails

Before you get down to the solution to get rid of the nail biting habit, it is important that you look at the causes behind this behaviour. Usually, this strange habit can be seen only in children. However, there are some adults who still cannot stop biting their nails or develop this habit in adulthood. Whatever the case causes are the same!

causes of nail biting
Nail biting often starts when you are a child, and carries on in adulthood. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

1. Anxiety and stress

According to Dr Anand, “Anxiety and stress are more commonly the reasons for nail biting. Children start with this habit at a young age and then it could go on into adulthood.”

2. Boredom

Usually, adults learn not to overdo the habit in most cases. But curiosity and boredom can be something difficult to deal with and nail biting can be seen in some people who don’t know how to handle boredom, frustration, and wait time.

3. Psychological factors

“There is a Freudian notion that nail biting is something to do with being stuck at the oral stage (between birth to about 18 months) of psychological development,” says Dr Anand.

4. Perfectionism

Those who are perfectionists have higher chances to develop this condition. Dr Anand says, “Perfectionism is related to nail biting because it leads to stress and anxiety.” In fact, the journal Scientific American Mind, also finds that people with higher levels of perfectionism chewed their nails more as compared to other people.

Also, read: Nail your nail care routine with these tips!

5. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

In certain cases, chronic nail biting can be a symptom of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). “Not only this, sometimes it is associated with ADHD, separation anxiety, Tourette syndrome, rarely depression and psychiatric disorders,” says Dr Anand.

causes of nail biting
How obsessive you are.? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Frustration

People who bite their nails occasionally, may be because they are frustrated or it may be that they are in a situation that they cannot handle which is causing them to bite their nails. A study published in Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry found that frustration is one of four emotions that cause nail biting.

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Is there any risk of nail biting?

Nail biting may seem harmless, but it is not without risks. This behaviour doesn’t only affect the look of your nails but can lead to number of risks such as:

* Infection in your nails due to continuous pulling, irritating and biting
* Soreness around the nails and top of the fingers
* Nail biting can also take a toll on your dental health
* Abnormal growth of nails
* Illnesses which passes through bacteria and germs from your finger to your face, mouth, and stomach

causes of nail biting
Take care of your nails and resist the urge to pick on them. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

All in all, biting nails is detrimental to your health. Try to avoid it as far as possible.

How can you stop biting your nails?

In most cases, nail biting is benign and can be overcome with determination and motivation to quit the habit. Remember, finding out what is causing nail biting and working in that direction is a major goal.

Here’s how you can get rid of nail biting habit:

1. Avoid stress

According to a 2016 study in the University of Tasmania, physiological imbalances such as stress and anxiety cause nail biting and therefore reducing them can help get rid of nail biting habits. To reduce the level of stress following a healthy lifestyle with yoga, meditation, and relaxation techniques can help.

2. Apply bitter-tasting nail polish

Deterrents like putting bitter tasting nail polish or bandages or using gloves can be used initially. You can also simply apply vinegar because it has a bitter taste and can help you avoid nail biting.

3. Stress ball

Whenever you feel like biting your nails, distract yourself by keeping your hands busy and away from your mouth. Dr Anand says, “Distraction methods, fidget devices, and stress balls can come to the rescue.”

causes of nail biting
Stress ball can be really helpful. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Get manicure

A very easy and good way to avoid biting your nails is keeping your nails manicured. “Going for a professional manicure can help in some cases as neat and clean nails look pleasing and no one wants to destroy the look,” says Dr Anand.

5. Keep nails trimmed

Fixing a time of the week for cutting nails/manicures can relieve the stress of nail perfectionism.

Some cases may require CBT (a type of psychotherapy) or even medical management.

So don’t worry and follow these tips to stop biting your nails.

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About the Author

Aayushi Gupta is a health writer with a special interest in trends related to diet, fitness, beauty and intimate health. With around 2 years of experience in the wellness industry, she is connected to leading experts and doctors to provide our readers with factually correct information. ...Read More

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