How to Stop Chronic Nail Biting In 9 Minutes

Published: 02nd September 2010
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Chronic nail biting is really embarrassing and irritating. Many people, especially adults who have been biting their nails since childhood, have this problem and cannot seem to get rid of this habit. Also known as onychophagia, nail-biting has been identified to be a condition caused by the obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) and is known as well to be a sign of anxiety, tension, stress, or fear. Most adults who have reported to be suffering from this condition shows the evidence in their fingernails-tiny slivers of nails embedded deeply into the nail beds, or worst, the full absence of nails from their fingers.

Nail-biting is common in children between the ages seven and ten years old, mostly affecting boys than girls. Young adolescents, young adults, and older adults also have this habit. Chronic nail biting is the worst kind because it usually tells of a habit that has been going on for most years of a person's life, and effective treatment is important for this to stop. There have been cases of success in some sufferers after undergoing many different treatments that their fingernails have already started to grow back. Physicians commonly recommend medications or therapy, or if necessary, a combination of both.

Chronic nail biting, when left untreated, will not only be a source of social embarrassment or irritation, but can also lead to health issues such cuticle bleeding, bacterial infections around the mouth and nail beds, sore or swollen fingernails, bleeding nail beds, deformed teeth, gum diseases, and not to mention the recurring germs or bacteria that will constantly attack one's fingernails because of the lack of the nail's protective coating. Young children are more prone to infections because of their weak immune system. Adults are prone to these infections because of their constant exposure to different environments and use of their hands in regular activities that easily exposes them to bacteria and germs.

To prevent the young children from bringing this bad habit into adulthood and to avoid more health problems, health experts advise that behavioral or aversion therapies be initiated at the early signs of nail biting. Parents can treat chronic nail biting by coating their kid's fingernails with bitter-tasting substance or nail polish, covering their fingertips with strips of clothing, plasters, or band-aids, cutting the kid's nails very short, or having them wear an orthodontic bite plate to discourage the nail-biting. Auto-suggestion, which can work both for the kids and the adults, can also be employed. This works to create a mindset that boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem to sidetrack the negative mindset brought by the symptoms that triggers nail biting.

For the adult-sufferers, a consultation with a psychotherapist or any health expert is recommended so that the root cause of the nail-biting habit can be diagnosed and proper treatment can be given. It is the theory that three of the known root causes of this bad habit is genetic, neurological, or a behavioral disorder and which are commonly present in people who are either into drug addiction, have OCD, brain diseases, mental retardation, or sensory deprivation such as blindness or deafness. Doctors can either recommend some anti-depressant or psychotic medications or a complement treatment with behavioral therapies. Three of these therapies which are known to cure about 90 percent of the chronic nail biting sufferers are the Habit Reversal Training (HRT), the Stimulus Control (SC), and the Hypnotherapy.

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