Nail biting, or what is scientifically known as onychophagia, is a stress-relieving problem that usually takes root from one's teenage years, right through adulthood. Be it boredom, stress, anxiety, or excitement, nail-biting has been termed as a 'nervous habit'. Even things like grinding one's teeth and constantly picking at one's noise must be stopped when adults notice their kids doing it.
Nail biting doesn't have to do with one's environment or biological factors, but is seen as a way of grooming oneself, unconsciously. Body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and compulsive self-mutilation (like pulling hair out) are some conditions that have nail-biting in common. This habit may be hereditary, but there are solutions to this problem.
- Nails should be filed every three days.
- Acrylic nails can be placed just above the natural ones.
- Getting a manicure done will force a nail biter to behave, since chipped nail paint isn't exactly an appealing sight.
- Braces make it hard for one to bite their nails; consider this option if the habit is persistent.
- Chewing gum can help keep the biting at bay when the urge arises.
- A water-soluble solution called Inositol promotes the secretion of serotonin, which is usually used for those suffering from OCD problems. Over time, this can prove to be useful.
- Applying a nail hardener solution can make it difficult to bite one's nails.
- Wearing gloves can help reduce the frequency of this habit.
If no natural means work, then your only option is to seek medical help or try cognitive therapy.
It is a session that confronts one's environmental attributes while finding a way to eliminate the problems that led up to the habit. Once the changes are made and the patient's mood is altered, he is consciously made to give up the habit. The point of this treatment is to extract information of the patient's background and life, in order to help him quit the habit.
Habit Reversal Training
It involves relaxing a person and making them feel at peace, with certain muscle exercises included to help with the process of quitting.
People are kept under supervision and a log is maintained to track their everyday habits. When the individual is addressed with how he spends his time, a kind of understanding is developed by the one in charge, thus, reducing the chances of the habit from taking place.
Those who suffer from prolonged nail-biting are given alternative methods to keep their hands busy. They're encouraged to learn how to sew, knit, or play with toys as a way of distracting themselves.