Nail Biting Causes: Why We Gnaw Our Nails
Stress and boredom top the list of reasons for nail biting. For some people, nail biting is a way to ease anxiety, or to keep at least one part of their body occupied when their mind is bored to tears.
Some other causes of nail biting include:
- Poorly manicured nails
Biting fingernails can also be a symptom of a psychological condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). People who wash their hands several times in a row or check the front door locks compulsively may also bite their nails as part of the same spectrum of behaviors. Many children who are nail biters also have other psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), separation anxiety disorder, or bed-wetting.
Regular nail biting that causes severe damage to the nail and surrounding skin can be considered a form of self-mutilation, similar to cutting and related behaviors.
- Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail biting polish. The nasty taste will discourage you or your child from biting. You can also use a regular clear or colored nail polish to prevent you from nail biting.
- Keep your nails trimmed short. You'll have less of a nail to bite.
- Get regular manicures. If you spend the money to keep your nails looking attractive, you'll be less likely to bite them.
- Use an alternate technique to manage your stress. Try yoga, meditation, deep breathing, or squeezing a stress ball to relax you.
- Put a rubber band around your wrist and snap it whenever you get the urge to bite your nails.
- If you've tried these techniques and nothing is working, wear gloves or put self-adhesive bandages on the tips of your fingers so your nails won't be accessible to bite.