Nail Biting

Nail biting – How to nail the nail biting habit?

Nail biting could be a secondary habit which one engages in unconsciously while performing some other activity like watching television, listening to music, reading, etc.

Nail biting could also be a manifestation of a person’s nervous disposition. People with jarred nerves are often found to suck at their thumb, pull at their hair or rub their hands while nervous. These are collectively known as body focused repetitive behavior.

Some people bite their nails only under certain conditions – such as when they are stressed out, excited, despondent, inactive, or bored, etc. In some people, nail biting can be due to shyness and low self esteem.

Two aspects make up the nail biting treatments. One is to place physical barricades to nail biting habit. Application of bitter tasting nail biting polish will restrain some from nail biting. These are fortified with calcium and magnesium which will bolster nail growth too. Some specially designed mouthpieces could be tried which hinder a person trying nail biting.

Despite the above simple nail biting remedies if nail biting habit is persistent in a person, it could be a symptom of an underlying more serious problem like, depression, anxiety, and such similar behavioural problems. For such cases, behavioural therapy may be advocated to stop the nail biting problem.

One needs to figure out the root cause triggering a person to engage in nail biting. Maintaining a diary of events will help one analyse one’s own triggers and then find ways on how to stop nail biting. The teachers of nail biting children could be consulted to detect any psychological problem that the child may be undergoing which are causing them to engage in nail biting.

Habit reversal treatment is given wherein the afflicted is encouraged to replace the nail biting habit with some more constructive one, like, drawing, knitting, crochet, etc. Kids are treated with placebos as a cure for nail biting to wean them from nail biting. Long term nail biting, can affect normal nail growth and also possibly deforms the nail. When nail biting becomes severe, medications are prescribed.

A few preventive measures can also be taken to curb the nail biting urge.

1. Keeping the nails trimmed is one such method. You bite only when you have nails to bite on.
2. Wearing artificial nails, nails with nail art affixed to them, will put off a person from biting at them. A nail polish could also work on some.
3. Some are given stress balls and putty balls to fiddle with.
4. Keeping one engaged in activities involving the hands will keep them distracted from nail biting.
5. Putting on gloves, stickers or bandages is another way out.
6. The afflicted could take calcium and magnesium supplements because sometimes a deficiency of these in the body drives a person to nail biting.
7. Healthy diet will promote healthy nails.