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Six Proven Ways to Overcome Nail-Biting Addiction

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Six Proven Ways to Overcome Nail-Biting Addiction

Picture source: insider.com


Growing up, I fancied well manured natural fingernails but always wondered how girls my age escaped biting their nails, this was because I particularly battled several times with nail-biting. 

Nail-biting, commonly known as onychophagy is an oral compulsive habit. It can be said to be a parafunctional activity, the common use of the mouth for an activity other than speaking, eating, or drinking. But as to why nail biting is so addictive - 20 to 30 percent of us do it - there’s little research. However, not all nail-biting is pathological, compulsion to chew your nails may just be a sign that you’re striving for perfection or going through stress. We can speculate that it is to do with its cost-free ease, practicality, and relative social acceptability, and there’s the rewarding aspect of getting each nail just how you want it. On a positive note, childhood nail-biters are less prone to allergies, presumably because they’re exposed to more germs.

Nail-biting is very common, especially amongst children. 25-30 percent of kids bite nails. More pathological forms of nail-biting are considered an impulse control disorder and are classified under obsessive-compulsive and related with other specified behavioral and emotional disorders with onset usually occurring in childhood and adolescence.


How To Stop

1. The most common and effective treatment, which is cheap and widely available, is to apply a clear, bitter-tasting nail polish to the nails. Normally denatonium benzoate is used, the most bitter chemical compound known. The bitter flavor discourages the nail-biting habit.

2. Behavioural therapy is beneficial when simpler measures are not effective. Habit Reversal Training (HRT), which seeks to unlearn the habit of nail-biting and possibly replace it with a more constructive habit.

3. For chronic nail biters is the usage of a dental deterrent device that prevents the front teeth from damaging the nails and the surrounding cuticles. After about two months, the device leads to full oppression of the nail-biting urge.

4. Placebo (A dummy medicine containing no active ingredients; an inert treatment) can be introduced in children and adults.

5.  Self-help techniques, such as decoupling and the use of wristbands as non-removable reminders. More recently, technology companies have begun producing wearable devices and smartwatch applications that track the position of users' hands.

6. Stimulus control therapy is used to both identity and then eliminate the stimulus that frequently triggers biting urges. It can be coupled with the HRT.


I'm sure one or more of these tips will work for you. Cheers to beautiful nails!

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