By- Ekjot Kaur
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Ekjot Kaur

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Not a mere habit: Nail Biting

Health

Nail-biting is a very commonly seen disorder. It is so common that people do not refer to it as a disorder but as a mere habitual response. All of us must have bit our nails in our childhood, it is a natural response for many of us but only a few of us continue this habit well into adulthood.


We are familiar with the home-made solutions that are offered by the all-powerful and intellectual relatives of ours. Painting the nails, putting pepper on them are two of the most common ones that we have heard. The issue is that these home-made remedies are not exactly solutions to Nail-biting as per experts, they are merely deterrents. Psychologists believe that nail-biting is an undermined issue that needs to be given attention to. Children who bite their nails can be deterred from doing so but when this habit manifests itself into adulthood, it needs to be taken care of in a better manner.


For most, nail-biting is an occasional thing but the habit of those who cannot control biting their nails is referred to as a body-focused repetitive behaviour. The chronic biting of nails and being addicted to it is also called Onychophagia and it develops as a habit in most kids when they are of a young age. However, the severity and the frequency of this habit starts diminishing as they step into adulthood. A very few percentages of adults are prone to nail-biting. Nail-biting is a cosmetic problem but in the case of high frequency and highly addictive nature of this issue can and may lead to physical issues. It can cause severe damage to nails and cuticles, it can also cause bacterial and fungal infections, nail-biting can harm your dental health and it is possibly dangerous because our fingernails carry a lot of germs and bacteria which, when put inside the mouth, reach the stomach and cause infections.


Nail-biting and its solutions are hard to obtain due to the nature of the problem. Psychology is yet to establish a single or main reason for the addictive nail-biting problem. Thus, proper preventive as well as therapy strategies have not been prescribed. In some cases, the addiction to biting the nails is caused by stress while in other cases it is caused due to boredom. Some people started biting nails for fun, or to imitate someone, usually an adult idol figure and it stays with them for a long time. People might start biting their nails to shape them in a particular manner and forget when to stop. It is started to make the nail perfect but instead, it becomes worse.

 

Onychophagia can also be associated with obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders. It has similar symptoms, responses and behaviour treatments. It is also characterised by an obsession with one’s physical self. A person becomes addicted to looking a certain way and doing things in a particular order and if that order is destroyed, behavioural reactions can vary from angry to depressed.

 

Onychophagia and its association with OCD make it a serious issue that needs to be taken care of. One reason or nail biting is also said to be low self-esteem and body image issues. A person who feels low about himself or herself is more likely to bite their nails obsessively. Therefore, dismissal of this problem at a young age might lead to a manifestation in the future and the correct response to Onychophagia will help with probable OCD issues that the person might face in the future.

 

HOW TO STOP BITING YOUR NAILS?

 

While the most common way of making someone stop biting their nails is through reprimanding them, it is not the most effective route. A person does not bite their nails for pleasure no can he control it in such severe cases. Therefore, scolding and forcefully making them stop will only push them further into the abyss as they will feel flawed.

 

Instead, here are several ways how you can help:

 

1)    Therapy: It is one of the best ways to get rid of the problem. A person who struggles with Nail biting can take therapy as it will help negate the fear of being flawed and ashamed.

 

2)    SELF CARE: another way in which you can stop biting your nails is by giving time to yourself and pampering yourself. Sometimes nail biting arises from boredom and stress, therefore, self-care is a valid way in which you can curb the urges.

 

3)    Treatment: People with a huge addiction may need medicine and proper therapeutic sessions.

 

4)    Buddy system: Talk to a close friend or a family member who would be your buddy and help you overcome the urge to bite your nails without actually reprimanding you. This person has to be someone you trust deeply so that you can share your feelings with them and they will give you an outlet for addressing your emotions instead of resolving to bite the nails.

 

In any case, do not ignore the issue, it may lead to severe complications. Stay safe and healthy!

 

 


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