Nail biting is one of the most common habits. Many studies have estimated the number of nail biters worldwide, with figures ranging from 20-30% of the general population. Typically, the habit starts in early childhood between the age of 4-7 years.
The nails are likely to be bitten when the mind is otherwise occupied, such as when watching TV, reading, driving or focusing on a particular task. The biting provides a sense of tension relief, pleasure, or gratification. It can also help to regulate intense emotions and thus serve as self-soothing mechanism.
Serious nail biting, where nails are bitten down to the nail bed, can be severe enough to result in bleeding, open sores and disfigured fingertips. Many nail biters are constantly worried whether someone catches a glimpse of their short, ragged fingernails, and go great lengths to hide their problem. The feelings of shame and frustration can take a tremendous toll on sufferers.
A nail file will be your best defense against the worst enemy of any nail biter—rough edges. As your nails begin to grow out, having a decent nail file handy to immediately address little snags or splitting nails can be a life saver as it's these exact irregularities that give reason to start biting.
- The key to making this approach work is consistency. Commit to taking care of any sharp edge or jagged nail immediately. If you find yourself in a public venue such as a restaurant or class room, excuse yourself and carry out the smoothing in a more private setting. .
- The quality and kind of nail file is of high importance as well. Metal nail files typically aren't grained fine enough and leave a ragged, thin piece of nail that hangs off underneath. In addition to that, many nail biters complain that metal files remove too much material too quickly. Crystal glass nail files, on the other hand, leave the surface noticeably smoother and allow better handling.
Become Aware Of Your Biting Situations
Certain situations, activities or emotional states can trigger nail biting. For some people the risk is greates when working on the computer, watching TV or focusing on a particular task. Other mainly enage in their habit when sitting in a boring meeting or when something pressing is on their mind.
Identifying these high-risk situations that leave you vulnerable to nail biting is often referred to as "awareness training" and it is the first step in getting a grip on bad habits. It helps to raise a red flag in habit provoking situations, giving you a chance to infere before damage has been done to the nails.
- Try to identify the situations in which you frequently indulge in your habitual behavior. When do you feel that tension in your fingertips? Is it when working on the computer, driving on the highway or relaxing in bed? What kind of emotions do you sense right before you pull your hands up to your mouth? Bored, worried, nervous or stressed? .
- One practical way to increase your awareness is to carry an index card with you for a few days. Each time the desire to bite your nails comes up, take out the card and write in a few short words what feelings and situations prompted the urge. Once the task is completed, take a few minutes to elaborate on the results..
Strengthen Your Fingernails
Nail biting causes the fingernails to become weak and brittle. After years of picking and chomping, the fingernails tend to crack and split easily. And it's often a simple irregularity like a cracked edge or rough side that calls for biting attention.
One great way to make the nails more durable is the application of nail strengthener. The ingredient formaldehyde causes the layers of the fingernail to grow stronger – making them less susceptible to outward influences. As a side-effect, the nails will be harder to bite.
- Pay attention to the sequencing. As a general guideline, the fulid should be applied once every two or three days over the period of several weeks. Thereafter, the application needs to be paused for several weeks, as to protect the health and natural growth pattern of the fingernails.
- Keep in mind that nail hardener should be coated on the front part of the nail only, as to avoid disturbing nail growth. In the case of severe skin damage or injured nail beds, it's best to wait for these wounds to be fully healed before applying nail strengthener.
By using these three simple tips on how to stop biting nails, you will be well on your way to ridding yourself of this mindless habit forever.