The nail-biting habit sucks! Men and women are doing this disgusting habit almost equally. However, men are more disgusted if they see women doing it than the other way around. You were probably a nail-biter at one point in your life, let’s say as a child because they are known to do it a lot more than the adults. If you have this problem, the below tricks will help you stop biting your nails.
What’s The Reason Behind Biting You Nails, According to Psychologists
Are you a nail-biter? What are your excuses for your nail-biting habits? Most of us nail biters have had someone ask, “Why do people bite their nails so much?” and we will find that we have no answers.
To us, Onychophagia is simply a habit that is difficult to get rid of! However, to science and research, there are certain indicators of what our bad habits might say about us.
Did you know that about 20% of the adult population has a nail-biting habit? To give you a rough idea of just how much this means, there are probably millions of Americans with this habit.
According to Fred Penzel, who deals with body-focused repetitive disorders, there are several hypotheses about the nail-biting habit. Although research regarding this habit has just only begun not too long ago, believing that we balance out our emotions by doing it.
As an example, the action of biting our nails provide simulation when we become bored, and if we do it while we feel stressed, it helps us to feel calm. However, recent researchers have shown that anxiety is not the root of the problem.
Instead, a study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry has found that perfectionism is similar to this behavior!
The Other Reasons to Bite Nails
Some researchers proposed that the nail-biting habit could have been formed, or rather, leftover from traces of evolution. This takes the example of an evolutionary ancestor line that we shared with other mammals.
The urge to groom much more than necessary, at times even to the point where we start hurting ourselves, could be seen in a cat, horses and other mammals! You’d know if you own a cat. At times, cats lick themselves so much that it causes fur loss.
A simpler explanation could be that we bite our nails simply because they are there for us to bite. Some psychologists do agree that we get psychological simulation from any activities, and it’s easy for us to get addicted to activities that reward us in the long run.
While nail-biting is definitely not something rewarding – we do not earn anything more than badly-shaped or damaged nails, there is indeed a weird sense of satisfaction associated with this habit. To be more specific, the feeling of satisfaction stems from being able to bite your nails off.
How To Stop Biting Nails
The following steps will help you with your habit. Just make sure you are following each and every step correctly and be persistent with your attempts. Let’s start slowly, with:
You should try to get manicures often. Why? Well, if your nails look pretty, you will not be that tempted to touch them. Also, the nail polish that is on top probably doesn’t taste well, especially the gel polish. This little hack may prevent your nasty habit more than you’d think.
Keep your nails short, because that is the most simple way to go. Your nails will remain healthy, and you won’t be tempted to bite them since there isn’t that much to bite. Keep clippers with you at all times so you can cut the excess.
You should push your cuticles back from time to time instead of just letting them be. If you push them back you will reveal more of your nail. This is easier to do after a shower when your hands and nails are wet. A little hack that makes your nails appear longer, and also gives you motivation so you can stop nail-biting.
You need to intake food with a lot of calcium and magnesium. Your nails will grow better and faster if you eat a lot of eggs, soy, whole grains, and live. Don’t forget about tuna fish, salmon, shellfish, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Your metabolic process needs all of the above, plus it helps your nails to stay shiny.
#5: Be Busy
Find yourself something that will make your nail habit disappear.
Some people like to drum their fingers, put their hands in their pockets, or just stare at random objects. If you are used to constantly playing with something that’s in your hands how about you turn to coins? They are so small and could be super entertaining. But hey, whatever keeps you occupied will be fine, as long as it’s not risky nor unhealthy.
#6: The Mouth
You can easily find an occupation for your hands, but what about your mouth? This one may be a bit harder, but in time you’ll find the right replacement. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Chew gum. This can be a great candy for starters, but even a bigger distraction! It takes your mind off of the nails, plus your breath will be minty.
Small snacks throughout the day can be a great thing. Carrots, chips, celery, or anything that is crispy may be a great preventer of nail-biting.
#7: Nibble Inhibitor
Paint a nibble inhibitor on your nails to stop yourself from biting them. They can be found at any bigger market, grocery store, or in a pharmacy. These inhibitors have nontoxic chemicals that taste so so so awful. You just need to paint them as regular nail polish. That nasty flavor makes the nail-biting process very difficult and yucky for everyone. You can apply it several times if you are too worried about the temptation.
#8: Fake Nails
Wearing fake nails is a great cover for your natural ones. Get your nails professionally manicured, and either go with the acrylics or tips. They usually last up to a month which is more than enough of time. After you remove them you’ll notice that your natural nails have grown underneath. Also, make sure to get beautiful artificial nails, that way you will want to let them be, and you won’t ruin the masterpiece.
#9: One By One
You can try to go a few days without biting your nails. Practice makes everything perfect, and we all got to start somewhere, right?
If this sounds too hard for you, then you better wrap an adhesive bandage around the fingertip of your chosen nail. Doing so should block your access to the nail, making it harder to bite it.
#10: The Bandages
Keep your bandages on every day until you are happy with your nail-biting habit. Make sure to apply fresh bandages every time you shower, every time the bandage gets soggy or dirty, or every few days.
Take them off only when going to bed, or if you have something big coming on. Know that it takes 20 days to break a habit. Try to last up to this point and you’ll be safe from then on. Everything goes a lot smoother and easier after you’ve seen some improvements.
#11: The Switch
To really get rid of a nail biting addiction, you need to make some changes in your life. When the period of those 20 days passes, get yourself something new and fun.
For instance, switch to sugar-free chewing gum and let that be your main attraction at the moment. Do you know those stress balls? Get them and squeeze them whenever you are feeling tempted. Get yourself something positive, neutral and let that break your bad habit.
Why Do Most Perfectionists Bite Their Nails?
There are actually several possible reasons why perfectionists tend to bite nails more. As mentioned above, these perfectionists are may frustrated or even angry at themselves. Since perfectionists want everything under control, they will find it harder to relax or do any tasks at a normal pace.
When they find that they are unable to accomplish a goal that they have personally set or meet deadlines, they start feeling frustrated at their incapabilities.
Since they also become bored easily and have to be doing something, biting their nails assures them mentally that they ARE indeed doing something – not just sitting there idling.
Are They Really Perfectionists?
First of all, it does seem that individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder are more likely to be nail-biters. The aforementioned study has found that most individuals who engage in nail-biting are identified as being organized and are perfectionists.
Perfectionism can be hard to handle, and this habit of theirs has helped them to feel less frustrated. Additionally, nail-biting habits also help these perfectionists to keep their perfectionism in control, resulting in a temporary sense of satisfaction.
Very quickly after the sense of satisfaction and calm, perfectionists will find themselves feeling some pain and perhaps even embarrassment as well.
The Personality of A Nail-Biter
Of course, other than the obvious perfectionist trait, nail-biting can also be associated with several other personality traits. Let’s explain what the perfectionist trait might suggest about your personality.
If you frequently engage in repetitive actions similar to nail-biting, you are more likely to be impatient than people who are not. You get bored more easily than most, and you are always thinking about the next thing you need to do.
What Will Happen If You Don’t Stop Biting Your Nails?
Below are some of the problems you’ll face if you don’t stop biting your nails.
- First and foremost, biting the nails damages your nails and the health of your nail bed. It will definitely lead to bad cuticle health in terms of splits and infections. But the negative effects of nail-biting are not only physically visible rather it can cause a range of medical problems if not addressed at an early age.
- The underside of your nails has bacteria and germs, which can be very harmful to your health since biting your nails causes those bacteria and germs to enter your body via your mouth. A nail biter is prone to various forms of nail infections as well, ranging from swelling, redness, fungal infections and warts.
- Nail-biting also causes dental problems in terms of misplacement of your teeth that take a large amount of time and money to reshape and reset properly and naturally. Biting nails can also cause digestive track-related problems simply because of the infectious bacteria that one may consume.
If you’ve done at least half of the things on our list you are definitely going to spot some changes. However, if you start biting your nails again, put the adhesive bandages back on for a longer period of time.
For some people, it took even up to three months to break these habits. Switch the methods every now and then and see which one works the best for you and your nails. Your nails will get better in time. The only question is how much do you need to wait, plus how strong is your will. It’s all up to you and your mindset.
Thankfully, biting your nails is not exactly a harmful activity. However, when it comes to hygiene and infections, you are still putting yourself at risk since your hands are, most likely, full of germs.
Additionally, if you have bitten a little too close to the nail beds, any open wounds nearby could easily welcome the next opportunistic pathogens to enter the wound and infect it. So, maybe think twice the next time you consciously decide to bite your nails!