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Nail biting, medically known as onychophagia, is a common oral compulsive habit that is extremely hard to break. It is an indication of nervousness and anxiety that affects around 30% of children between 7 to 10 years and as much as 45% of teenagers.

Tips to stop biting nails

If one truly wants to give up this unpleasant habit, there are a couple of effective tips to follow. The key to success is to be persistent.

Keeping a journal might be a very good idea. One can make entries about the things he or she did to maintain the nails and the compliments he or she receives from friends and supporters and create successful action plans. Notes should include any signs of discolorations, changes in shape and feel.

Going for a manicure is also worth trying, especially, because it involves a money related motivation. After paying for an expensive treatment, biting nails does not seem to be so tempting.

One of the oldest tricks in fighting this nasty habit is to paint the fingernails with strong smelling nail polish or any other bad smelling substance. This way, even bringing the nails near the mouth will be disgusting enough to obstruct the biting.

Support from friends and family is crucial to success. It may be helpful to announce this decision clearly and let everyone know about the changes. All of the well-wishers should be authorized to remind or rebuke the one that is in the process of quitting this nasty habit.

One should be prepared to face cravings and strong urges to chew the nails. The best thing to do in order to prevent biting the nails again is to wear gloves until the urge goes away. Other repetitive actions may also be helpful, for example running the fingers through the hair. If possible, it would be the best to stay calm and engage in a hobby or any other joyful activity until the craving stops.

Reasons to seek medical help

The treatment differs from one to another affected person, and at least one of those tricks should do the work. However, if all of them fail, a person should consider seeing a doctor or taking some over the counter medicines. Any sign of white spots or yellow coloring on the nails is an alarm for seeing a nutritionist or physician. These changes might point out a deficiency in some of minerals vital for health and a person's overall well-being.

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