Nail biting is an unfortunate habit that is surprisingly widespread with a high percentage of people of all ages falling into this lifestyle choice.
Estimates suggest that 30% of children, 45% of teenagers, 25% of young adults and 5% of older adults bite their nails. Although nail biting becomes less common after the age of 18, it can and often does continue into adulthood. Many adults and children are often unaware they are biting their nails because doing so has become a habit.
The medical term for nail biting is onychophagia.
Many will start because of stress
And then as the habit becomes entrenched, the social stigma and embarrassment over the look of their nails causes them to become even more stressed as well as depressed and even isolated, perhaps avoiding enjoyable activities.
Nail biting for many is the result of boredom too.
But it is not just a social problem…
There are other reasons why a nail biting habit is not healthy
You can easily transfer bacteria from under your nails to your mouth and the rest of your body, perhaps leading to infections.
Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails.
Long-term nail-biting can also interfere with normal nail growth and cause deformed nails.
Nail biting could affect your dental health too, causing your teeth to move from their correct position, become misshapen, wear down prematurely and/or become weakened.
Whether you’re an adult who can’t seem to kick the habit, or a parent of a child or teen who bites his or her nails, here are 6 simple tips:
Keep a journal to identify your nail-biting triggers, such as boredom or watching TV, then avoid the triggers as much as possible.
Wrap your fingertips with Band-Aids or electrical tape.
Keep your nails trimmed short or manicured.
Keep your hands busy with other activities - especially when you are relaxing.
Consider behavioral therapy, such as habit reversal training.
Put an unpleasant tasting substance on your fingertips (vinegar, hot sauce or commercially available bitter-tasting options).
Nail Infections including nail fungus
People who bite their nails are more likely to get a fungal nail infection because they often injure the cuticle or the skin surrounding the nail, creating numerous entry points for harmful fungi to invade the body. The cuticle’s job is actually to protect the nail and skin from bacteria and other possible sources of infection. Once the fungus sets in, it can be difficult to remove and, if not treated, can eventually damage and disfigure the nails with complications including pain when walking, typing and writing.
Treatment for nail fungus
Our H-Nail Fungus Formula works by reducing the fungus in the nail bed. The product is concentrated with a deep penetrating anti-fungal action to reduce the symptoms of nail fungus such as discoloration so that your finger nails (and toenails) are restored to their former healthy appearance.
Jane writes for Healing Natural Oils, a producer and retailer of high-quality, all-natural treatments for a variety of conditions as well as a range of beauty products. Apart from writing about those various conditions, she also covers general health, environmental and other subjects of interest. She has lived in Kenya as well as Cape Town, South Africa and spent time in San Diego, USA. She now lives in Somerset, England with regular visits from her far-flung children and grandchildren. She is a keen gardener and enjoys growing fresh fruit and vegetables with her husband on their joint allotment. As a result, there is something available to use in the kitchen virtually all year round. Her regular posts can be found on our blog.