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Nail Biting Info

What is Nail Biting?

Nail biting, also known as Onychophagia, is an oral compulsive habit which usually reveals itself through stress, boredom, or anxiety. Nail biting is a compulsion to self-groom, frequently to excess.

Why Nail Biting?

Stress, boredom, or anxiety are all usual reasons why people bite nails. The specific reason why an individual resorts to nail biting as an outlet is a difficult one to pinpoint, but we believe it is because nails are most accessible and always there. The habit of nail biting falls under the same umbrella as other compulsions such as hair pulling, skin picking, and lip biting.

Who Bites Their Nails?

Studies have shown that 60% of children and 45% of teens bite their nails. Not uncommonly, nail biting can continue or develop into adulthood. In addition, nail biting seems to be more prevalent in males than in females, though the gap is closing in children and teenagers.

What are the Effects of Nail Biting?

The most direct effects of nail biting includes redness and inflammation of the fingernail. The area around the nail and nail bed can become damaged and bleed, which can lead to infection if left untreated.

In addition to fingernail damage, there is a potential for long term dental issues. Continuous small stresses put on the front teeth can misalign them over time. Also, the enamel can get worn down and lead to tooth damage such as chipping or cracking. Oftentimes these side effects aren't recognized until the damage is noticeable. 

The mental toll that nail biting can take should not be overlooked either. Embarrassment or shame are very real and can contribute further to the habit. It's a vicious cycle.

Info for Adults and Parents

Your child or loved one may not even realize that they are biting their nails. Work with them to help them understand what nail biting is, and what the long term effects can be, in a neutral and helpful way.

When you notice biting taking place, take a note of what is happening at the time and triggering them. If boredom is the trigger, go for a walk or hike instead of watching tv or playing video games. Engage them in an activity. Anxiety from school is a common trigger as well. Ensure that homework and projects are done in advance to mitigate stress. If there are more serious issues, seek counsel from a psychologist or doctor.

Techniques for Nail Love

The first part of overcoming the habit is mental, and maintenance of the nails, skin, and cuticles is essential. Basic, rounded nail clippers are a great tool to clip off bothersome ragged edges. Cuticle oil is excellent for cuticle recovery. Lotion is great for keeping surrounding skin and cuticles hydrated. To prevent biting of the nail, skin, and cuticle area, Strong Will by Nail Quail is the perfect topical solution for children and adults. It's safe on any polishes or treatments and is dispensed through our convenient and discreet one-handed applicator.

Enjoying the fruits of our labor is important, too! Manicures and fun nail polishes encourage good habits and prevention.

Advice From a Reformed Nail Biter

Nail biters do not choose to be afflicted by this compulsion, it is simply a way in which our brains deal with stress. If we could stop one day and never have to bite our nails ever again, we would.

Please be patient with us. We understand that it can be frustrating and painful to watch, but hand slapping and yelling does not help, it only furthers our own anxiety and frustration.

The best course of action is a gentle touch and support. If you see positive growth, please encourage us!