Nail Biting Deterrent - Which one Works for you?

Published: 01st September 2010
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Young and old who have the bad habit of biting their nails should ask for help to have it cured or treated. While there are many treatments or cures available, choosing one effective nail biting deterrent may already be enough if the discipline and effort is consistent. For young children, parents help more by devising simple remedies or ways to get their children to stop biting their nails.

It has been revealed in several studies that young children between the ages of seven and ten years old are more prone to biting their nails. It is also common in boys than in girls. A nail biting deterrent created by parents for their kids who have it would do well to have it practiced at the early signs of the habit before it becomes chronic that may lead to bleeding, swollen, or sore fingernails, infected mouth or nail beds, or even damaged teeth.

A nail biting deterrent takes many forms for different parents and their children. Some parents would resort to an orthodontic treatment where a bite plate is placed inside the child's mouth to discourage the nail-biting. Other parents would coat their child's nails with a substance that tastes so bad that the child would have second thoughts about biting their nails. Another option is having the child wear a rubber band on their wrist so that each time he or she tries to bite nails again someone else would snap the band to remind the child to stop.

Other parents would just cut their child's nails really short, while some would wrap the fingertips with a band-aid, a plaster, or a strip of cloth to protect the nails and discourage the child from keeping up with the habit. A few other parents would simply give verbal warnings or reprimand the child.

One interesting nail biting deterrent is auto-suggestion. An adult or child can practice this by simply reminding oneself of their personal worth, that there is no need to be anxious, confused, or stressed about anything. This practice is targeted at the subconscious mind, like creating a new inner mindset that will encourage self-confidence and relaxation. It is said that once this new mindset is successfully created, the nail-biting habit will gradually disappear. A parent or any trusted adult can initiate this to a child who may like this form of therapy compared to others.

Other forms of treatment are with the use of medications. For children, however, it is advised that they be treated without the medications. Most adults who have the chronic habit of nail-biting can resort to these medications after some other remedies have been tried but didn't work. A proper consultation with a health specialist will support the need for these because some nail-biting habits can either be caused by a neurological, behavioral, or genetic disorder. A medication used as a nail biting deterrent will need a doctor's advice after some check-up is made, whether they need an anti-depressant or an anti-psychotic medication. Most of these have been found to be effective for curing the habit.

Behavioral treatments include Habit Reversal Training (HRT) which gives instructions on the awareness of the habit, relaxation, breathing, focus, and the performance of a reverse response to the habit; the Stimulus Control (SC) which helps the person to identify, eliminate, or change the factors contributing to the performance of the habit and how to control them; and hypnotherapy. All of these nail biting deterrents encourage positive alternatives to the bad habit and are proven to be effective 90 percent of the time to cure the nail-biting habit.

Simon Shaw is an expert on nail biting deterrents and their benefits for more information visit

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