Nail biting, or onychophagia, is a common condition in which individuals have a habit of biting their nails and surrounding areas. This behavior can develop for a number of reasons and can lead to health problems. Treatment options and strategies, such as therapy, are available to help people stop biting their nails.
Onychophagia, or nail biting, describes a type of body-focused repetitive behavior that involves damage to the nails due to habitual biting. Some people may also view nail biting as a motor stereotypy. Nail-focused repetitive behavior describes a behavior a person can engage in to reduce stress. A motor stereotypy describes repetitive movements that seem to have no purpose. These behaviors are common in children, but can continue into adulthood. Nail biting affects 20-30% of the general population. However, there is evidence that it is more common in children and young adults, affecting around 37% of people between the ages of 3 and 21. Possible complications of nail biting include gastrointestinal infections, skin infections, dental problems, and altered nail appearance.
This is why many people may try to manage this behavior. Some people may find that therapy helps them stop biting their nails. Others prefer strategies such as clipping or covering fingernails or applying bitter-tasting nail polish.
In this article, we discuss treatment options and management strategies for nail biting.
Strategies to stop nail biting
The following tips can help you stop biting your nails:
– Keep nails short: By cutting their nails regularly, a person can reduce the temptation to bite them.
– Get a manicure regularly: As above, this can help reduce the urge to bite your nails. Spending money to keep nails attractive can also serve as a deterrent.
– Cover the nails: Covering the nails with tape or stickers can prevent biting. You can also wear gloves.
-Apply bitter nail polish: Applying bitter-tasting nail polish can deter people from biting their nails.
-Replace the behavior: When a person feels the urge to bite their nails, they can try to keep their hands busy and away from their mouth by doing another activity, like playing with a stress ball.
-Identify triggers: Although it can be difficult, a person may be able to notice the triggers, such as boredom, stress or anxiety, that cause them to engage in this behavior. Once she identifies the triggers, she can take steps to avoid them.
– Try to stop gradually: Adopting a gradual approach, for example starting by not biting your thumbnails, then moving on to other nails, can be an effective strategy.
Besides applying bitter nail polish and practicing good nail hygiene, a 2021 article suggests other strategies to help people treat and manage nail biting:
Apply olive oil: Putting olive oil on the nails can make the nails softer and less satisfying to bite on. This method can be useful for young children, who may be disturbed by bitter nail polish.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) with functional analysis: This form of CBT involves a trained professional observing the person with nailbiting to help discover triggers for nail biting. The professional can then use CBT methods to help the person react differently to these triggers.
Habit reversal therapy: This therapy involves the person becoming aware of their nail biting behavior before trying to replace it with another, such as chewing gum.
Why bite nails?
There is no single cause for nail biting, and researchers believe that many different factors can cause a person to develop nail biting. For example, there is evidence that nail biting can be a response to various stressors, such as school stress or family issues. Onychophagia can also indicate an underlying psychological disorder, such as anxiety.
Risks and Side Effects of Nail Biting
One of the common side effects of nail biting is visible deterioration of the nails and surrounding areas. This damage can result in an unattractive cosmetic appearance, which can cause feelings of shame, guilt, or embarrassment in some people. It can also increase the risk of other complications, including:
– gastrointestinal infections due to ingestion of pieces of nails
– skin infections, such as paronyxis and onychomycosis
– reabsorption of the root of the teeth
– dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint due to repeated bites.
Other potential complications are alveolar destruction and intestinal parasitic infections.
Onychophagia is also associated with various psychiatric conditions, although it does not cause them. These conditions include:
– obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
– attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
– oppositional defiant disorder (OPD)
– separation anxiety disorder
– Tourette’s syndrome.
Nail biting can also be linked to other disorders like trichotillomania, which is the pulling of hair, or excoriation, which is the pulling of skin.
When to contact a doctor
People who bite their nails frequently should consider seeing a doctor. Likewise, if a parent or caregiver notices this behavior in a child, they may want to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Identifying and diagnosing this behavior can be difficult. A 2021 study indicates that about 64% of doctors see people biting their nails in their office, but almost 61% of them never or only ask about nails or do not examine them nails. This finding suggests that a person may need to bring nail biting to the attention of their doctor.
However, a doctor can successfully diagnose this behavior after taking a detailed patient history and performing a physical examination of the hands. He can then propose a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach.
Onychophagia is the clinical name for nail biting. It describes the impulsive and chronic behavior of damaging fingernails by habitually biting them. This condition can lead to psychological problems, nail damage and various infections.
People can try various treatments or strategies to prevent this behavior. Options include behavioral therapies, keeping fingernails short, applying bitter-tasting nail polish, and identifying potential triggers.
* The information and services available on pressesante.com in no way replace the consultation of competent health professionals. [HighProtein-Foods.com]