Onychophagy is the compulsive habit that suffers a person when biting his/her nails. This practice can cause a series of different kinds of complications. These lead to having problems in the dentition, deformation of the cuticle, formation of warts and, in some cases, alteration of the lateral edges of the finger.

Most people who suffer from this kind of compulsion are unaware of it

In the most extreme cases, many of these effects can also lead to a partial or total loss of the nail. This behavior usually appears during childhood and adolescence stages and is developed with greater force in adulthood.

As an additional fact, most people who eat their nails agree in announcing that this is a practice they cannot control it.

Know the most frequent reasons that lead a person to eat his/her nails

This type of practice appears in some people, as a means to calm moments in which they are anxious or nervous.

Daily stress also plays a very important role, when it comes to tearing and eating nails. Moments when you are stressed (the presentation of an exam, a presentation in public, or a job interview), they may be some of the most frequent triggers in this kind of situation.

Sooner than later nail cuticles start looking like dry, chipped, and lifted pieces of skin

In many situations of life, drastic changes are often a trigger to start biting your nails. These may include a divorce; a beloved person’s death; a theft, or even an accident where he/she was affected by high levels of stress.

Although many studies have been conducted with regard to onychophagy, it is not classified as a disorder, actually. Experts warn that it is a compulsive behavior and, therefore, could be part of the human obsessive-compulsive spectrum.

In order to eliminate this bad habit, there are different methods. In the most recurrent cases, psychological therapy will help the patient to modify this behavior for a less harmful one that allows him/her to better control his/her high levels of anxiety.

It is important to reflect, through this edition, that patients will know the causes that lead them to perform the act of tearing and devouring their nails. Unfortunately, in most cases, there is a hidden psychological problem that underlies their sub-consciousness on a larger scale.

As for what has been mentioned before, we will give you some tips to avoid biting your nails:

Focus on bitter enamels

One of the simplest tricks, in addition to being very effective, is to apply on the surface of nail polishes with unpleasant flavors. You can get them at any pharmacy, without having any special order. These are also safer; most of them come with a special applicator to facilitate even more their use.

Do not keep nails too long

This recommendation is quite simple. That is why, if you have long nails, you will always have an excuse, every time you feel anxiety, to start biting them. This will not happen if your nails are cut to an average length.

Change that habit for one that offers you a better result

In this particular case, you should not only chew gum to get away from biting your nails. When you feel the need to bite your nails, try or replace this habit for another that is also much healthier. The ideal would be to perform anti-stress exercises with balls designed for that purpose.

Chewing gum can be an excellent ally!

If you keep your mouth busy chewing gum without sugar, you will feel less time to bite your nails. In addition to this form, you will also get a better breath. So you would be killing 2 birds with one shot.

Care your hands: go to a manicurist

If you want to keep your nails well-maintained and presentable, you should go to the manicure service at the aesthetic center of your preference; maybe, when seeing your nails perfectly arranged, you will think it twice when the desire of biting them comes.

Bitten nails vs polished nails

Monitor the problem

Believe it or not, onychophagy is a very normal habit during childhood. However, the problem appears if that irremediable desire to bite or eat nails becomes more intense every day and still remains in the stage of adulthood.

In many cases, the reason why this habit is maintained throughout the years could be a psychological trigger such as, for example, abusive stepparents, or emotional disorders related to anxiety, stress or, simply, boredom. The most important thing is to identify the cause of why you do it.

At last, no matter what causes have made you start biting your nails, a proper psychological orientation could help you find a plan to avoid that undesired habit.