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Article: How to stop biting your nails?

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How to stop biting your nails?

Onychophagia is a compulsive behavior that involves biting your nails or simply putting them in your mouth.

Onychophagia, or the action of biting your nails

Very often, this mania is caused by stress or anxiety. It allows you to calm down and stabilize your emotions.

Onychophagia affects adults as much as children and adolescents. It can become a banal habit but not serious.

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Causes of onychophagia:

The causes of onychophagia vary, but it very often appears during a situation of stress or concentration at work, at school, in personal life or even as part of smoking cessation.

Other triggers are boredom, the feeling of hunger or the feeling of being uncomfortable.

The typical individual who bites their nails is often anxious, shy, introverted and/or perfectionist in nature.

Consequences of onychophagia:

Firstly, onychophagia can cause small skin lesions which may turn into skin infections, especially when the nail is bitten down to the roots of the phalanges of the fingers.

The underside of the nail is the perfect place for germs and bacteria. Carried into the mouth, these microorganisms enter the body and increase the risk of getting sick.

The action of biting also risks deforming the nails and preventing them from growing back. It is irreversible, the entire nail matrix (the tissue around and under the nails) can be damaged.

As a result, the nails have an abnormal appearance, a sign that they are not healthy.

Additionally, biting your nails often can damage your teeth. This habit creates mini dental trauma, the dental enamel therefore risks being scratched and damaged.

In the long term, it can even disrupt dental occlusion, which is the way the teeth meet when the mouth is closed. As a result, teeth can become deformed, cracked or even loosened.

Finally, onychophagia can have social repercussions; some affected individuals do not take responsibility for their damaged hands. They therefore tend to isolate themselves from the outside world.

Fortunately, there are some solutions to limit or permanently stop nail biting.


Tips to stop biting your nails:

Here are some simple and effective tips to avoid biting your nails and get them healthy :

  • Cut your nails very short: the best method to stop this problem is to regularly cut your nails very short. This means there are fewer nails to bite when placed in the mouth.
  • Chewing gum: occupying your mouth with chewing gum can help limit onychophagia.
  • Adopt alternative gestures: instead of biting your nails out of habit, you can occupy your hands by fiddling with strands of hair or a pen, or by kneading an anti-stress object (a ball for example).
  • Have a beautiful manicure: Having a beautiful manicure, wearing beautiful nail polish or false nails can deter nail biting. In particular, there is a bitter nail polish with an off-putting taste designed to prevent nail biting.
  • Moisturize your hands regularly: hands that are often hydrated and oily are less pleasant to hold in your mouth and can make you feel disgusted by this habit. The ideal is to choose a rich, moisturizing and nourishing cream composed of natural ingredients to repair the damage caused by onychophagia.
  • Wear gloves or stickers: if your hands are gloved, it is impossible to bite your nails. In addition, there are stickers specially designed to cover nails. Otherwise, a simple adhesive tape stuck over the nail may be enough.
  • Practicing sport and/or relaxation: practicing a sport or relaxation activity has the effect of channeling your aggression and anxiety. For example, meditation and yoga can help you relax and stop putting stress on your nails.
  • Take targeted food supplements to limit stress: certain anti-stress food supplements are composed of plants that are very useful for soothing anxiety during a situation conducive to stress .

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Treating your bitten nails:

To take care of your bitten and damaged nails, you can use vegetable oils, in particular castor oil or olive oil. They are very effective in nourishing, hydrating and strengthening the nail.

Every week, the ideal is to soak your nails in a bowl filled with these two oils for at least five minutes.

This treatment will also promote healthy and rapid nail regrowth.

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If you have difficulty stopping onychophagia, it is advisable to speak with a health professional (general practitioner or dermatologist). A consultation with a psychiatrist or psychologist can also be useful to understand the reasons for stress or anxiety.

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