Nail biting is quite common. Biting fingernails is a habit that often starts in childhood. Studies show 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their nails. Nail biting can continue into adulthood.
The study also shows its common among people who keep long finger nails, women especially. It can range from a mild, occasional habit to an ongoing and more serious problem.
According to Mercy Penelope, a psychologist based in Arkansas, USA, stress and boredom are the main nail biting causes for most people. The habit is often a way to ease anxiety or to keep at least one part of the body occupied while the mind lacks interest.
She also adds that biting fingernails can also be a symptom of a psychological condition, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Many children who are nail biters also have other psychiatric disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), separation anxiety disorder, or even bed-wetting.
Nail biting has both physical and emotional consequences. Regularly biting your nails and cuticles can leave your fingers red and sore. The area of skin around your nails may bleed and become infected.
Regular nail biting that causes severe damage to the nail and surrounding skin can be considered a form of self-mutilation. Try this:
Coat your nails with a bitter-tasting nail polish. The nasty taste will discourage you from biting them.
Keep your nails short. You’ll have less nails to bite.
Get regular manicures. If you spend money to keep your nails looking attractive, you’ll be less likely to bite them.
If nothing seems to work, wear gloves or put self-adhesive bandages on the tips of your fingers so your nails won’t be accessible.