If you find yourself biting your nails and unable to stop, even though you know it’s a bad habit, you are not alone. Approximately 20 to 30 percent of Americans bite their nails regularly, and chronic nail biting is known as onychophagia.
Natural approaches can be very beneficial for this type of obsessive-compulsive behavior and help people move on from nail-biting for good. Here is some information about the condition and how to stop biting your nails for better overall health.
Why Do People Bite Their Nails?
Nail biting is a form of self-soothing behavior that often starts in childhood. Some people start biting their nails as a way of “fixing” imperfections, even though the habit actually makes nails look worse over time. Stress, boredom, and anxiety can lead people to bite their nails, often subconsciously and without even thinking about it.
The Problem with Nail Biting
Nail biting can cause physical damage to the fingernails, cuticles, and surrounding skin. You put yourself at risk of infection when biting your nails and suffering from redness, pain, and swelling. Nail biting can also cause psychological harm in a person and cause feelings of shame and low self-esteem. When you consistently put your fingers in your mouth, you are also putting unnecessary germs into your body and at a greater risk of getting sick. Long-term nail biting can even lead to dental problems and temporomandibular joint pain.
Natural Approaches to Breaking the Habit
Breaking habits are always challenging, and nail-biting is no exception. Try keeping your nails trimmed very short and clipping hangnails right away to avoid the temptation to bite them. Some people have found success with getting professional manicures because then their nails look too pretty to bite, and the cost of manicures may deter a nail-biter from ruining them. There are bitter-tasting yet non-toxic nail polishes that you can put on your nails as a deterrent too. While not always practical for daily functioning, covering your hands with gloves or putting bandages over your nails might also help break the habit.
But for long-term success, it is best to identify and address your personal triggers for nail biting. Keep a journal with notes about when you are most likely to bite your nails and the circumstances that led up to the biting. You can try keeping your hands busy with a stress ball or fidget device instead of nail-biting as a healthier alternative.
Some people benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy sessions to stop nail biting, especially if a mental health condition is causing nail-biting as one of its symptoms. To address physical damage caused by nail-biting, a dermatologist may be able to help. For a homeopathic approach, you might also consider trying Seagate OliveViate to provide relief for inflamed, cracking skin around the nails. Figuring out the right solution to stop nail biting is different for every person, and it often takes a few different approaches to find one that works for you.