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Can’t stop biting your nails? Here are 5 reasons that could be triggering this bad habit

Published on:10 September 2020, 11:30am IST
Nail biting is quite common, but we can’t deny it’s pretty gross! Here are 5 reasons why you’re unable to quit this habit
Shreya Gupta
Biting nails can be much more than just a ‘habit’. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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If you’ve tried all possible ways to stop biting your nails but haven’t succeeded, you aren’t alone! Believe it or not, approximately every third adult on this planet bites their nails, and although it’s a gross habit, it is difficult to get rid of it. Have you ever thought there could be much more to it, than just a ‘habit’? Well, we’re here to decode the many reasons behind it: read on to find out. 

1. You might be a perfectionist
In a study published in the journal Scientific American Mind, participants were incited by stress to study their behaviour. The participant who scored the highest on the levels of perfectionism chewed their nails more as compared to others.

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Those who are perfectionists have a higher potential for excellence, and that often leads to stress and anxiety. So, don’t worry too much about biting your nails!

2. You might have OCD
According to the American Psychiatric Association, biting your nails might be linked to an obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD. It might sound like a controversial opinion, but several scientists do not agree to its link with OCD, which is triggered by the failure of impulse control. And that’s not the case with nail biting!

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3. You might have a psychiatric disorder
If you bite your nails all the time, then there’s a high chance that you might be suffering from an underlying psychiatric disorder. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences suggests that up to 80% of children with psychiatric disorders are nail biters.

Also, read: 5 things that your nails might be saying about your health

4. You might be frustrated
In a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers attempted to incite four emotions, including frustration. And guess what? They continued to chew on their nails throughout!

Have you noticed you tend to chew on your nails, especially when you’re stressed or frustrated? That’s because people need something to do at that point, and nail biting helps them stay engaged!

nail biting
Frustration can urge you to bite your nails. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

5. There might be a fault in your psychosexual development
Sigmund Freud, an Australian neurologist, believed that nail biting was indicative of problems in psychosexual development. He also thought that nail biters suffer from oral fixation, a condition where oral activities like eating, drinking or smoking reduce stress.

Now you know nail biting is much more than a habit, isn’t it? Tackle the reason you most identify with, and say goodbye to this bad habit!

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Shreya Gupta Shreya Gupta

Finding nirvana in good food, Shreya also loves reading books and is a die-hard Potterhead. Confident and motivated she's fun to be with. Plus food. Always.