Nail biting or onychophagia is a nervous tic and usually occurs in introverts, who do not express their feelings of dissatisfaction or anger. The need to release these negative feelings appears and manifests itself unconsciously through the habit of biting your nails. Basically, it is an involuntary gesture and that is why often a person’s desire and will to stop this habit are not enough.
Why should you stop biting your nails?
Experts say that, as a rule, nail biting will not cause permanent damage, but this habit certainly has disadvantages:
- if you have damaged the tissue around the nails, they will not grow as they normally should.
- you can break, crack or damage your teeth when you bite your nails
- you can get sick – your hands are a fertile ground for bacteria, and your nails are the perfect place where these microorganisms can hide, so this habit can predispose you to disease.
What influenced the appearance of nail biting?
There is much controversy about the causes of onychophagia. Although some studies have associated red nails with behavioral problems and anxiety, other scientists in other studies do not think they are a cause. Anxiety in children with onychophagia is not a trait, it is a condition, experts say.
And although it has been suggested that nail biting may reduce anxiety or nervous tension, recent studies do not support the theory of anxiety in onychophagia. Nail biting usually occurs as a result of boredom or the fact that the person is working on difficult problems and would not appear against the background of anxiety.
Studies also say that those who bite their nails do not do this when they are involved in social interactions, so it is quite difficult to identify a clear cause of this habit.
Tricks to help you with nail biting
1.Apply bitter oils on the fingers
Many essential oils have a bitter taste that can prevent onychophagia. The best are tea tree oil and neem. Both will leave a bad taste in your mouth, which is why you will not be tempted to bite your nails.
It’s very simple: apply a few drops of the chosen essential oil on a piece of cotton wool and spread it on your nails. You will need to repeat the procedure several times a day as the oil may be absorbed into the skin or wiped off.
2.Hold an anti-stress ball in your hand
You can find this item in toy stores. These are soft balls also used to treat carpal tunnel syndrome. You can squeeze them very hard in your hands, which helps you fight the anxiety and discomfort that causes you to bite your nails. When you go through difficult situations that cause you anxiety, always keep an anti-stress ball at hand.
3.Cut your nails as short as possible
If you don’t have nails long enough to grasp with your teeth, you won’t feel as much satisfaction when you try to bite them.
4.Drink soothing teas
Some herbs available in health food stores help fight anxiety and nervousness, so you no longer have the tendency to bite your nails. Most of the time, stress is the trigger for onychophagia. In this case, it is recommend to opt for valerian or passion flower.
- 2 tablespoons of the chosen plant (20 g)
- 1 cup of water (200 ml)
Method of preparation:
- Boil the water and pour it into a cup.
- Add the plant and let it infuse for 5 minutes.
- After this interval, strain the tea.
- Drink it before it cools.
Even if it sounds funny, think that if you can’t reach your nails, you can’t bite them. In the cold season, it won’t look weird wearing gloves anyway. If gloves do not tempt you, you can try some stickers made especially to cover your nails, which can have the same effect.