Nail biting is an oral compulsive habit that is very common in children and adults. Medically, it is known as onychophagia. Many people are not even aware of the fact that they are biting their nails. From a mild habit, nail biting can become a more serious problem.
Stress, boredom, frustration, anxiety and loneliness are some of the common reasons behind nail biting. It can also be a symptom of psychological conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), separation anxiety disorder or bed-wetting.
Nail biting has both physical and emotional consequences. Excessive nail biting can cause severe damage to the nail, cuticles as well as the surrounding skin, which can become red and sore and may even bleed and get infected. Nail biting can also harm your teeth.
As the appearance of bitten-down fingernails can be embarrassing, this can add to your anxiety and stress. Plus, the act of biting your nails is socially unacceptable and gives a negative impression to others.
Nail biting is an extremely hard habit to break, but not an impossible task. You can do it with a little motivation and strong will power. There are also many natural aids that can help you stop biting your nails.
Here are the top 10 natural aids to stop nail biting.
1. Neem Oil
The bitter taste of neem oil can help you stop nail biting. Additionally, being an antiseptic, neem oil will keep your nails free from infection.
- Use a cotton ball to rub neem oil on your nails.
- Allow it to dry on its own.
- When you unconsciously bite your nails, the bitter taste will compel you to remove your fingers from your mouth.
Garlic is another natural ingredient that can help you in the battle to fight nail biting. Many people dislike garlic’s strong taste and aroma. As garlic is a natural antiseptic, it will also strengthen your nails and keep infections at bay. You can use both raw garlic and garlic oil.
- Cut a clove of garlic into halves. Run one piece over your nails liberally and leave it on for a few minutes before washing it off. The lingering garlic taste will stop you from biting your nails.
- You can also rub some garlic oil on your nails with a cotton ball.
3. Bitter Gourd
Another very effective natural aid to stop nail biting is bitter gourd. As its name suggests, it is known for its bitter taste.
- Make a paste by crushing one bitter gourd.
- Put the paste on a sieve to extract the juice.
- Apply the juice on your nails and fingers and allow it to dry.
- The bitter taste will prevent you from biting your nails.
4. Nail Biting Polish
There are many nail biting polishes available in the market that are especially designed to help people quit the habit.
- Use a bitter-tasting nail biting polish to coat your nails. Its bitter taste will prevent you from biting your nails.
- You can even use a regular dark-colored nail polish. When the nails are covered in dark color, they look bad when chipped from nail biting. This can help motivate you to break the habit.
5. Trim the Nails
Another good option to stop nail biting is to trim your nails on a regular basis. When you keep your nails relatively short, there is less left to bite. Trimming your nails will also keep them looking neat and tidy.
Choose the right clippers for the job and after trimming, polish the edges with a nail filer.
6. Regular Manicure
Treat yourself to a professional manicure as often as you can to help you break the habit of nail biting. A professional manicurist can apply acrylic nails over your natural nails, or add nail décor like jewels, patterns and textures.
The more beautiful your nails look, the more it will function as a deterrent. The cost you paid for the manicure may also deter you from biting into those nails.
7. Artificial Nails
Wearing artificial nails is a great way to keep your nails covered so that you cannot bite them. Also artificial nails will hide the bitten nails in a stylish manner.
There are different types of artificial nails available in the market like acrylics, wraps, gels and press-on nails. Always opt for the right size of artificial nails to reduce the risk of falling off.
8. Wear Gloves
Gloves work as a good barrier method that can help you stop biting your nails. You’ll be more motivated to quit biting if you’re writing or doing something else that is particularly tough to do while wearing gloves.
Wearing gloves during the winter months is fine, but wearing them in the middle of summer can look ridiculous. Remind yourself that if you stop nail biting, there will be no need to wear the gloves. This works as a motivational tool.
9. Adhesive Bandages
Another good barrier to prevent nail biting is applying self-adhesive bandages on your fingertips. Also, as bandaged nails do not look good, they work as a motivator to stop nail biting.
Keep the bandages on your fingers during the day and take them off at night. You can apply fresh bandages every time you shower, or every time they become wet or dirty.
10. Adopt a new habit
If you bite your nails when you are stressed, depressed or bored, pick up a new habit that will keep you distracted. Opt for a hobby that will keep both your hands and mind busy and thus prevent you from biting your nails.
Some hobbies that you can try are making clay models, knitting or crocheting, drawing, cooking, painting and music. Participating in these activities will also help reduce the emotional distress that is contributing to the nail biting.
- You can also chew gum or suck on mints or candies throughout the day.
- Carry a water bottle with you so that you can take a sip of water instead of biting your nails when you have a weak moment.
- Visualize yourself with strong, healthy nails. Put a picture of healthy nails on your wall, or even carry it with you. This will motivate you to reach your goal.
- Maintain a healthy diet to help your nails repair and grow well. Eat calcium and magnesium-rich foods so your nails will repair and grow well.
- Reduce stress so that you can become more relaxed.
If you’ve tried everything to stop biting your nails and nothing has worked, it may be time to see your doctor. At times, nail biting can be a symptom of a bigger issue like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression.