10 tips to stop biting your nails (onychophagia)

It is often believed that eating nails is simply associated with the nerves of the moment or simply a bad habit. however, this terrible habit may be due to deeper psychological reasons and it is often an indicator of trauma that occurred during childhood.

The habit of eating your fingernails, also known as onychophagia, has quite serious repercussions on your health, it is not a purely cosmetic problem. In the fingers and nails, we harbor a myriad of microorganisms, including certain pathogens, which, on contact with the mouth, can cause infection. In addition, by biting our nails, we can irreparably damage them as well as our teeth and gums.

But don’t panic, with a little willpower and Aragonese and with the ten tips that we explain below, you will once again be able to wear perfect and healthy nails.

Why do we bite our nails?

Nails are basically made up of dead cells coated with keratin and are essential for many functions in humans. We even use them to play musical instruments, but obviously they have much more everyday uses and are necessary for our daily life.

Causes of onitophagia

Some experts suggest that the habit of nail biting may originate from infancy, babies and toddlers have a habit of putting their fingers in their mouths. Nail biting is not considered a disease but a psychological pathology which, if it becomes an irrepressible and compulsive habit, must be treated medically.

The causes of onychophagia can be divided into two groups:

1. External causes

One of the recurring explanations of onychophagia is anxiety and stress caused by personal, professional, economic, emotional or marital problems, nervousness for exams … These are generally more benevolent factors, because with the will and awareness of the problem, it’s relatively easy to let go of the habit and get it under control.

2. Internal causes

This is emotional disturbances and nervous system disturbances caused by trauma. They can be family mismatches, abuse, humiliation, low self-esteem, guilt, and a need for self-punishment. The habit is prolonged over time and it becomes chronic, sometimes the behavior is so acute that it can lead to self-aggressive behavior.

There is a widespread belief that praying to bite your nails is a minor problem, as they grow back in no time anyway. But beware! onychophagia can be worse than you usually think and cause permanent damage.

Consequences and effects of eating nails

The hands provide us with a multitude of information about the person, they are a reflection of health and safety per se.

Well-groomed hands make a good impression on others. In other words, biting your nails has health, emotional, psychological, aesthetic and social connotations.

1. Health and aesthetic consequences

Huge amounts of germs of all kinds are found in the nails. These, when in contact with the mouth, they can enter our body and cause some kind of disease.

Injuries to the fingers and yolks can cause bacterial or viral infections. Outraged, fingers can be deformed and there is a risk of losing the nail permanently. Other consequences also include chronic inflammation of the fingers and the appearance of cavities due to damage to tooth enamel.

2. Emotional consequences

Another type of negative effect of eating your nails is the complex and the discomfort (which ultimately causes anxiety) by the appearance of the hands and that it can interfere with interpersonal relationships.

This point is also linked to low self-esteem, feelings of sadness, and an inability to control compulsive behaviors.

3. Social consequences

The person who eats the fingernails may believe that they are rejected by society. too much it can present certain difficulties in personal and sentimental relationships.

Work problems: rejection of job interviews for reasons of hygiene or aesthetics depending on the location.

The ten tips to know to avoid biting your nails

As you can see, giving up this unhealthy habit can have countless benefits both for your health and on a psychological, emotional and social level.

We will explain it to you below ten good tips for not eating your nails. These are very simple things that do not require special products, you just have to want it and put in the will.

1. Be aware of the problem

The first thing to do is to detect situations that cause you stress or insecurity and that activate the habit of biting you, Palpate or scratch your nails and this leads directly to putting them in your mouth.

It is about identifying the particular moments that lead you to this behavior, for example having to interact socially or to prepare for an academic test, the moments before a job interview … which group avoids this behavior and keeps your hands busy, these must be things you like, for example playing sports, doing crafts, playing a musical instrument, writing … this way you will relieve anxiety and avoid the compulsive behavior of biting your nails.

2. Chewable liquorice

Keeping your mouth busy chewing licorice root is a good measure to combat the habit of biting your nails.. Do this especially in times of anxiety. Always have this remedy with you. Once you’ve given up on the bad habit of onychophagia, you can rest and leave the licorice at home.

3. Chewing gum mask

In the same way, it is very effective to chew gum whenever you feel the need to put your fingers in your mouth. This way you will avoid biting your nails while refreshing your breath and exercising your jaw muscles avoiding wrinkles.

4. Use Aloe Vera

There are specific bitter products to avoid this habit, but why are you going to spend the money and have what you need at home?

Aloe Vera has countless health properties, But it is certainly not very good. Cut into half a pint of Aloe Vera, you will see that it has a transparent content similar to snail slime, leave it in the fridge overnight and you will see that this slime has adopted a color like reddish in color. due to oxidation, which produces its bitterness. Then apply it on the nails until it dries. Every time you put your fingernails in your mouth, you will get a very bitter and unpleasant taste that will surely make you want to do it again. In addition, Aloe Vera has antibacterial and healing properties, which makes it ideal for preventing infections due to wounds by biting the nails and speeding up the regeneration process of these.

5. Self-control

With this self-control exercise, you will be able to control the urge to eat your nails:

  • With finger to mouth, stop when it’s five inches from your lips. Bring him out. Repeat this action several times, decreasing the distance more and more.
  • Insert the nail between the teeth without biting, resist a moment, remove it. Repeat this gesture, increasing the time more and more. Practice this exercise for 5 minutes a day and you will see that it works.

6. False nails

It might be the most expensive solution of all, but it’s worth it, it’s about cover your nails with other synthetics such as acrylics. This will prevent you from damaging your own nails while still allowing them to grow.

7. Dashes

Put a few strips on your nails for a month, replacing them every now and then. This means that you can admire how healthy and stylish they grow after awhile without biting them.

8. Practice a hobby

Keeping busy with a hobby or hobby that you enjoy will keep your nails away from your teeth for longer.

Any activity that interests you is appropriate, it is very important that it is to your liking as it will dispel your desire to put your nails in your mouth. Handicrafts are highly recommended as it keeps your hands busy especially when it comes to working with materials like clay to make pottery as it keeps your hands dirty just like painting is interesting.

9. Wear gloves

If you find the gloves look good on you, wear them, especially in winter. It’s a sure-fire way to avoid biting your nails.

10. Congratulations on your progress

Feel free to celebrate your progress as you progress. You will see how the people around you count silk and congratulate you, It will encourage you to keep your nails healthy and beautiful.

In conclusion …

Thanks to the willpower and the advice you have learned, you are sure to shine soon with perfect nails. If you find that it is very difficult for you to quit this habit, you may want to see a trusted psychologist.

Bibliographical references:

  • Baeza, JC; Balaguer, G. et al. (2008). Hygiene and prevention of anxiety. Madrid. Editorial Díaz de Santos.
  • Burns, D. (2011). Feel good. Therapy for depression. Editorial Paidós
  • Fioenza, A. (2007). 99 strategies for overcoming fear, anxiety and phobias. Barcelona. RBA Editors.

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