Onychophagy is the medical term for a nail biting habit. This habit could be from boredom, anxiety, nerves, or fear.
Besides being an aesthetic problem, it can also cause skin infections in your cuticles or fingers. This is why it is so important to not bite your nails.
Here, we’ll give you some homemade ways to help.
Can I really stop biting my nails?
Onychofagy is most commonly seen in boys and men, who generally don’t care as much about what their hands look like.
This bad habit usually shows up in traumatic or stressful situations, like when taking a test, when you’re unemployed, when a loved one passes away, when on a plane, etc.
It’s not just the nails that many people bite. In addition, it’s also the soft tissues of the finger and cuticle. This can have many health consequences, such as:
- Bleeding and wounds
- Illnesses caused by bacteria or fungus
- Nail deformities
- Tooth problems (enamel breakdown, cavities)
- Mouth injuries (ulcers)
- Stomach issues (when nails are swallowed)
- Respiratory problems (if a piece of nail is breathed in and lands in the lungs or gets lodged in the larynx)
There’s the matter of appearances, too. People who bite their nails often hide their hands, feel embarrassed, or hide when they’re doing it.
“Check this out too: 5 Signs Your Fingernails Use to Show You Something’s Wrong with Your Health”
Homemade solutions to keep you from biting your nails
This hard-to-control and often unconscious habit can be treated. All you need is a bit of willpower, some effort and commitment, and certain homemade solutions.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
Drink soothing teas
Some herbs, available at natural or health food stores, can help lower your anxiety levels and nerves and thus help you stop biting your nails.
Most of the time stress is the main trigger of onychofagy. We recommend using valerian or passion flower in this particular case.
- 2 tablespoons of your herb of choice (20 g)
- 1 cup of water (200 ml)
- First, boil the water and pour into a mug.
- Add the herb and let it infuse for 5 minutes.
- After this time, strain.
- Drink before it cools.
Chew gum or roots
It may sound strange, but this is one of the most effective strategies if you want to stop biting your nails.
Chewing gum or roots reduces anxiety and thestress that can lead you to “attack” your fingers.
We advise chewing sugarless gum in order to prevent cavities, or chewing gingerroot or licorice sticks. Have one of these three options on hand for whenever you feel the urge to chew your nails.
Squeeze stress balls
You can get them in toy stores. Believe it or not, they’re the same soft balls that are used for people treating carpel tunnel.
These soft balls that can be squeezed very tightly are great for channeling anxiety or unease so you don’t bite your nails.
When you’re in stressful situations, keep one close.
Apply bitter oils
Many essential oils have a bitter taste and may be a good way to keep you from biting your nails.
The best ones are tea tree oil or neem oil. Either will leave a bad taste in your mouth and make you want to stop chewing your nails.
It’s very simple: apply a few drops of the essential oil you decide on to a cotton ball and smooth it onto your nails.
You may need to repeat the process several times a day, since it will be absorbed or wear off throughout your day.
Apply garlic or lemon
If you don’t have essential oils around the house, no problem. You can replace them with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or refrigerator.
Lemon, garlic, or even pepper can help you get rid of your nail biting habit. Some people rub hot sauce on their fingers, too.
Whichever you choose, do it carefully so as to prevent causing reactions in your mouth.
“Read this article too: 17 Interesting Alternative Uses for Nail Polish”
If you can’t resist the temptation to bite your nails even when you’re asleep, we advise wearing gloves.
Do it during those “dead” times when you’re not busy and thus more tempted:
- When watching TV
- If you’re reading a book
- When you’re sitting at the table chatting after a meal
- At night.
Eat a diet high in essential oils
If you bite your nails when you’re nervous or when you’re hungry, we recommend eating a diet rich in vitamin B and omega 3 fatty acids.
These will help you feel fuller for longer. Here are a few sources you should drink or eat more of:
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