Nail Biting problem: Causes and Treatment


Nail biting is a common problem faced by each one of us at least once in our life time. This mainly happens when we are scared, watching a horror movie, or when we are not interested in listening to our lectures in classrooms. And if not stopped on time it becomes a habit.

Biting fingernails is a kind of habit that often starts from childhood. Reports have shown around 60% of children and 45% of teenagers have this bad habit of biting nails. And studies have shown nail biting usually stops after the age of 18. But in some it can also continue and stay lifetime if not prevented. Researchers says, many children and even adults are often not aware that they are biting their nails. Therefore the problem can range from mild, to occasional habit or can become ongoing habit and more serious if not treated on time.

Causes of nail biting

Stress and boredom are the major cause of nail biting problem in many people. Scientists say this habit is often a way to keep us occupied when the brain lacks interest in doing other work or it could be sign of pure anxiety problem in others. Whereas some suggest other factors like irritation, frustration or loneliness can also trigger nail biting habit, where some scientist believe we get it from our genes. Hence there could be number of factors that can lead to nail biting problem.

Biting nail is also found to be associated with psychological problem in some people. And such disorders where biting nail is one of the symptom are known as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Other symptoms associated with this disorder are like checking the front door locks several times or washing their hands several time etc. It is also observed from studies that many children who are nail biters also suffer from psychiatric disorders such as attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), separation anxiety disorder or bed wetting.

Problems with nail biting

Nail biting has both physical and emotional problems associated with it. Such as regular biting can damage your nails, cuticle and surrounding skin also. This can lead to soreness and reddening of the affected area. In extreme cases it can also lead to bleeding from area around your nails which can lead to infection by microbes. Bacteria and viruses which grow in such infected area on fingers have easy access to pass to mouth and other pasta of body thus causing more health complications. Regular nail biting can also harm your teeth leading to poor alignment and weakened teeth.

Nail biting Treatment

Some steps can be taken care to prevent nail biting problems which involves:

  • Try to coat your nails with some kind of bitter tasting nail polish which will discourage you from putting nails in mouth and biting them.
  • Try to keep you nails short and trimmed so that you have less nail to bite.
  • Keep your nails attractive by indulging in regular manicure so that you will not feel like biting them.
  • If stress is your problem causing nail biting. Indulge yourself in alternative programmes to relieve your stress such as in yoga, meditation or any other exercise.
  • You can also wear gloves to prevent nail biting habit

And if still your nail biting problem does not go, then talk to your mental health professional to get rid of this problem. Because if this exist along with stress and anxiety, it can lead to psychological problems such as OCD which requires proper counselling and medications on time.



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