Alain-Raymond van Abbe, a former health industry and cosmetics promoter, estimates the world’s pathological nail biters number 600 million or more. Nail biting can be anything from a bad habit to an outward symptom of a medical or emotional disorder. However, for no matter what the reason, chronic onychophagists (nail biters) will be acutely aware of just how difficult it is to break this destructive habit. This article outlines some of the treatment options ranging from habit reversal to self-hypnosis.
Treatment depends on the individual, but regular grooming and care helps to break a nail biting habit. Look after your nails ! As you continue to read this page, picture how beautiful your fingers will look after you stop biting your nails.
However, it is commonly accepted that nail biting can be motivated by any of the following: stress, medical disorders, acquired behaviour, genetics or just plain habit. Any kind of disharmony as a result of friends, family, work, or school can trigger the habit.
Habit reversal is perhaps the most “successful” and “valid” therapy for nail biting, using a step by step program that seeks to make the individual aware of her behaviour and then provide a physically competing response to interfere with it.
Replacing the habit of biting nails by the habit of chewing gum works for some people. This can have the unintentional side-effect of helping the individual to overcome their nail-biting habit. For them, it may take sheer determination to break the habit
Various forms of aversion therapy exists to help people stop biting their nails. You can try using a bitter tasting substance to paint on the nails like Stop-zit which is available at drug stores. Tactics you may find helpful include making a mental note to stop, promising oneself not to bite, and making it a New Year’s resolution, or other such commitment to stop. If you bite your nails, then you know how difficult it is to stop. When dealing with children you may have to accept the fact that this is the way your child relieves tension and that 90 percent of children who chew their nails stop by the time they are adults. But it’s just downright annoying when the habit goes on and on, regardless of the number of times you ‘decide’ to stop.
Some nail biters who undergo orthodontic treatment find that wearing a retainer or a bite plate makes it impossible for them to sever their nails with their teeth.
The decision to stop nail biting has to take place at an unconscious level. Self- Hypnosis can help you really change your behaviour, and make the choice to stop nail biting a real one.