It’s unknown why exactly someone bites their nails but it could be due to stress, boredom, anxiety, depression or simply a compulsive behavior that developed over time for reasons unknown.
Is it serious? In many cases no but there can be permanent nail deformity, dental issues and even infections. Once the habit is established, it’s difficult to break so the best bet is to nip it in the bud when it’s first noticed.
Here are several different treatments to try, the idea is to make the taste of chewing so repulsive that the desire to nibble is weakened and eventually lost altogether. Do they work? For some people, yes…for others, not so much.
If the behavior is stubbornly clung to and hard to break, ask a doctor about testing for calcium or vitamin deficiencies…some believe the impulse could be from the body’s desire for nutrients its lacking.
Remedies (apply daily or as needed):
- Soak twice daily in oil (such as olive, castor, cod liver)…for 20 minutes at a time
- Hot pepper sauce, Tabasco
- Tea tree
- Aloe vera gel
- Cayenne pepper
- Chili powder
- Vinegar (soak for about 5 minutes)
- Lemon juice (soak for about 5 minutes)
- Garlic powder or clove (peel clove then rub all over)
- Wrap each finger tip with tape, bandaids or wear gloves
- The oils listed at top can strengthen nails so they’re healthier and less tempting to nibble on, but if you mix them first with something strong like onion juice, garlic powder, cayenne pepper or infuse them with cloves or hot peppers, this will also add an extra deterrent because the taste will be awful.
- Keep in mind that a young child may rub her eyes, avoid using anything that will burn them.
- Keep them cut short and well groomed, if there are no ragged edges or torn cuticles to nibble on, the temptation can be minimized.
- Keeping the fridge stocked with a ready supply of raw carrots, celery sticks and crushed ice to munch on can curb temptation during tough moments.
- Vinegar and lemon juice can also be beneficial for fighting infection.
- If cuticles and surrounding skin are raw and sore, the topical treatments listed above will likely burn. Try olive oil and bandaid wraps first until they’re healed then either continue with that or if something more is needed, proceed with rubbing in the nasty tasting items.
Good luck and if I missed your tried-and-true, please feel free to share it with everyone in the section below.