What is Nail Biting and How to Treat it?


Nail biting is a psychologically problematic behavior beset by contradictions and peculiarities. Technically speaking, the medical community calls the condition Onychophagia and it typically starts at the age of 5, but could extend into adulthood. Nail biting can be a surprisingly common in many communities and it could cross every economic and social barrier. But still, prevalence figures for adults are much lower than for children.

In mild cases, nail biting can be characterized by ragged, short nails. In more serious cases, the habit could cause bleeding around the nail edges and damages to the cuticles. If not quickly and properly attended to, infections could develop. Many studies show that nail biting could peak out somewhat around puberty. A research on behaviors observed in schools at Chicago shows that nail biting happened to approximately sixty percent of kids between eight and eleven of age.

Nail biting can be a very difficult habit to break and there are multiple treatments for this condition. A common method is to define the real reason for this. Modifications or a complete avoidance of this situation would be advantageous to eliminate this habit. In many cases, improved self-esteem can be helpful in breaking this habit. There are products on the market that are aimed to help nail biters break their habit. As an example, sufferers could apply a solution on their nails and the unpleasant taste could immediately remind them to stop the habit.

A host of researches conducted in Europe and the United States to determine whether nail biting is related to a form of mental illness. Although there’s a clear psychological factor, scientists found that among a group of people with high prevalence of nail biting, the habit isn’t caused by a systematic form of mental maladjustment or disorder. There are two therapies commonly used to treat nail biters:

  • Stress management: This therapy could be an ideal solution is stress is identified as the primary underlying reason for nail biting. It is a relatively affordable treatment and after they can properly manage stress, people could be more relaxed in any stress-inducing situations.
  • Aversion therapy: It is a good alternative for people with mild nail biting problem. People could simply apply foul-tasting, but safe substance on their nails to help people eliminate their habit. This therapy only works well on people who just start biting their nails. But, it could still be important to define possible cause for this habit.