All you wanted to know about Nail Biting and how to treat it

Nail Biting: Implications

Did you know that your nails can reveal clues to your overall health and personality? And how bitten nails or chipped nail polish can put interviewers off a candidate? You have often heard that first impressions count, particularly when this is related to a job interview.

Judy James, author of The Body Language Bible, states that you have 7 seconds to impress someone when you meet for the first time.

Therefore, we should take care of our general appearance and this, obviously, includes our nails.

Nail Biting

Nail Biting

Studies show that: 28-33% of children, 44% of adolescents, 19-29% of young adults and 5% of adults are nail biters.

It seems that Biting fingernails is a tic or a common oral compulsive habit in children and adults that, often starts in childhood, and it happen during periods of nervousness, stress, hunger or boredom. Nail biting gives the individual a feeling of peace and reduces nervous tension in stressful situations. Actually, a friend of mine stated that her current biting habit came from the time when she was a child and her father died, this tragic event during childhood triggered the tic. But this type of problem can range from a mild, occasional habit to an ongoing and more serious problem and be a sign of emotional disorder called chronic onychophagia, this is when someone becomes a “pathological groomer”.

Some Facts you should know:

Factors to spark Nail Biting

  • Genetics – An ancient grooming behavior in the brain, left behind by evolution
  • Childhood Stresses – caused by stressful or traumatic events: shyness, pressure to achieve good grades, bullying in the school, divorce of the parents, moving to a new house,
  • Imitation – nail biting may be a learned behavior from the family
  • Lack of proper tools – Another theory is that the nail biter simply doesn’t have the right tools to trim the nails or handle irregularities as they arise

Negative consequences

  • Anxiety in the individual because of the impossibility of showing the hands
  • Negative impact on your appearance: social implications
  • Health problems: microbial and viral infections, dental problems, transport of germs into the mouth


For mild biters:

  • Bitter Polish: apply a bitter-tasting preparation to the nails
Anti nail biting

Anti nail biting

  • Keep nails trimmed short.
Manicure set with a glass nail file

Manicure set with a glass nail file

  • Get regular manicures
  • Use an alternate technique to manage your stress (yoga, meditation,…).
  • Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you get the urge to bite your nails.
  • Wear gloves or put self-adhesive bandages on the tips of your fingers

For chronic biters:

Onychophagia is a disease that takes a physical form from a psychological cause. Their personal history, their character and therefore, any treatment has to be adapted on a case by case basis:

  • Medication: A tool to help with therapy
  • Behavioural Therapy: Habit Reversal Training (HRT)5
  • Other treatments: Aversion Therapy, Self- Control, Hypnotherapy or Psychological treatment (to eliminate the underlying problem)
Nail biting

Nail biting

Many adults and children are often unaware they are biting their nails because doing so has become a habit and this can affect the individual’s quality of life and ultimately his self-image. Personal grooming is just as important as what you wear. You may select the right clothes, but neglecting personal hygiene can ruin the image you wish to present. Get your fingernails always neat, clean and trimmed, experts claim.

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