Nail biting is one of the most common nervous habits among the population. It is estimated that around 40% of adolescents suffer from this mania, although the percentage decreases to 10% in adulthood. Although, until recently, the habit of biting nails was classified as an unsightly habit, in recent years and after several investigations, it has been concluded that it is a nervous disorder that not only affects to aesthetics but also to the health of those who suffer it.

This practice, unpleasant for many people, is called onychophagia and can bring with it some type of mental problem , cause serious injuries and infections in the hands and even physical damage, such as the deterioration of the teeth. Onychophagia, as it is not a disease as such, does not pose a potential danger at first, but it can end up becoming the cause of other more serious problems .

The habit of biting nails usually appears in times of stress and anxiety because, according to research, those who suffer from it experience a certain sense of relaxation and calm. The problem comes when this practice becomes a habit that is done automatically and unconsciously, making it very difficult to abandon it.

What negative consequences does onychophagia have?

The consequence that is previously seen in someone with the habit of biting their nails is aesthetics . The vast majority of people who have this disorder, when they have been doing the same for many years, end up having a nail that will never grow beautiful again, but will do it deformed. When this custom affects the periungual tissue, and therefore the cuticle, it is quite probable that there is an irreversible damage to the nail matrix . This will cause the nail to grow in a dystrophic way, that is, irregularly, thick, yellowish and with stretch marks.

This habit also ends up producing micro traumas that alter the area under the nail and that protects the area from possible damage, making this entire part of the hand more prone to bacterial, viral or fungal infections . On the other hand, not only the hands are affected by this bad practice, but the dental health of the person can also be compromised since constant and nervous biting can cause deterioration or deformation of the teeth .

Tips to stop biting your nails

Being a habit that develops, on many occasions, in times of stress, nerves or anxiety, you have to be aware that it will not be easy to overcome it. If we look at anyone who suffers from onychophagia we will see that they practically bite their nails without being aware of it and very automatically. Although it is true that there are certain tricks to overcome that mania or disorder , the most important thing is to have a lot of patience and a real commitment to yourself.

Compulsive onychophagia ends up meaning the weakening of the cuticle and the structure of the nail itself, so this makes it easier to bite. To combat this bad habit, one option is to restore the nail to its natural strength and hardness through the consumption of calcium and magnesium . In this way, if the cuticle and the entire structure that surrounds it is strengthened, it will be more difficult to bite the nails and perhaps this bad habit will be little abandoned. The most recommended foods for this purpose are any dairy product, nuts or fish.

Another effective trick that can be applied to combat any mania is to stay distracted or to work on relaxing yourself. If your brain is busy and you find yourself doing something that you are comfortable and happy with, the likelihood that you want to bite your nails out of nervousness is greatly reduced. If you are still a restless person who is not able to concentrate, choose to distract your mouth with gum or sugar-free candies. You can also do activities where you have to keep your hands busy most of the time.

Whether you are a girl or a boy, another trick that you can put into practice to try to end your bitten nails is to get a manicure . This trick plays a psychological role and can be really effective if the person is concerned about their aesthetic appearance. The idea of ​​this trick is to get a manicure to show off beautiful nails that are literally ‘worth biting and destroying’. As a plus, special enamels can be used to harden the nail and even to give them an unpleasant taste in case the temptation can and you want to bite one.

As a general rule, onychophagia is suffered when the person is stressed or nervous so try to avoid situations that cause you anxiety or overwhelm . Sign up for meditation or yoga classes where they teach you to control your body and mind and where you can release all the accumulated tension. Another tip that will also help you control stress is to avoid any stimulating drink such as coffee, tea, caffeinated soft drinks or alcoholic beverages.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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