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Why Do People Bite Their Nails?

Have you wondered why do people bite nails? Although the real reason hasn’t yet been discovered, here is one simple explanation of why so many of us might actually choose to pursue this disgusting habit of gnawing off the tips of our fingers.

Chronic Onychophagia

If you are wondering what that is, that is the clinical term for nail biting. It affects 30% of children and 45% of teenagers (me included).

A person bites their nails when they are nervous, stressed, hungry or bored and this is very subconscious because nail biting starts as a child but as we grow up this nervous condition is triggered back and to cure nail biting – finding the nervous condition is the only way to satiate it.

A lot of the nail biting is linked to a physical, emotional or mental disorder. Those nail biters will know that when they face stress or boredom, their hands subconsciously go to their mouth and they start biting it without realising they actually are.

Some people say that nail biting is also linked when a person is in deep thought. People say that biting nails is related to oral fixation. This means that a person is always holding a craving to put something in their mouth to stimulate it. This may start when a child is very young at about up to 18 months.

This could be a possible explanation for nail biting. A lot of the times, you will find that if you are a nail biter, you tend to do other things like bite the ends of pens or pencils while at work because you are in thought which could mean that there is a chance of you getting stressed.

Nail biting can be cured and some people believe reducing anxiety levels will decrease nail biting. Others have different methods like using bitter tasting chemicals and paint them on nails like nail varnish and things so that it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. Nail biting should ideally reduce greatly when adulthood approaches although extreme conditions of anxiety may provoke it again.

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  1. I know a couple of adults that bite their nails.

  2. It is tough to give up

  3. I bite my nails. Its hard not to stop. I hear you can get a bunch of bacteria on your nails if you do.

  4. My daughter has a bad habit of biting her nails.

  5. Very true. It is a habit and sometimes it can be difficult to break. And yes, I agree nervousness does play a part. Good choice for a topic and hopefully, others will break the habit because it is disgusting.

  6. thanks for the info..
    oddly enough, i think im the only one in our crowd who has never bit her nails…

  7. My husband bites his nails and as a child so did I. My grandmother taught me to file, shape and polish my nails. Then they were too pretty to bite off. It worked and I still polish my finger and toe nails to this day. Well done article and one I have not seen done before. Good work.

  8. I used to nail-gnash to the extreme! A friend of mine started slapping my hand every time I went to nibble, and in the space of a few weeks…..I stopped! Never done it since. My nails still don’t grow properly and the shapes are a little off, bur far better not to chew! Great info here!

  9. I bite my nails and I’ve never tried to stop. Some people smoke, some drink and some take drugs. Personally I’d say biting nails is the least of people’s worries =]

  10. I bite my nails when I get really nervous or just before taking a test! I need to stop though because my fingernails are really uneven. I think I picked up my habit from my family because we all are nail biters (even my grandmother lol) lovely article :)

  11. I bite my nails and so does my entire family from Grandma to my kids. It is most definitley linked to nerves, deep thought and boredom too. I tried press on nails a few times, but I bite them too. Only cure for me to try is to stop long enough to grow enough to put on acryllic nails. I don’t think I can chew accrylic. Good article.

  12. I don’t nor have I ever had the habit of biting my nails. But this article is rather interesting, I never really gave this any thought until I read this article. Nice work!! :)

  13. I was told that my nail biting was a vice to get rid of nervousness caused by my bipolar so I think you’re right about trying to find the root cause for why someone bites their nails.

  14. My five year lod bits and if makes me upset..I’ll try clear nail polish and see if that helps. thanks everyone….

  15. This is very good, nikita. I used to bite my nails when I was younger. I used nail polish with garlic and that kept me from biting my nails.

  16. I think its a primal instinct. I believe subconciously people bite their nails and chew on them because it helps with cleaning teeth. Just my opinion.

  17. im a teenager..nd i agree w/ this…cuz when im nervous i bite them..nd i guess i am stresses cuz i only get about 6 hrs of sleep

  18. You know what? I bit my nial and I don’t find it disgusting at all. As a matter of act I think it’s a part of me. I bit my nail EVEN with nail polish on and yes it doesn’t tast good. All I wan to know is why people do it.

  19. i bit my nails for years and then one day,i was in a restaurant, and the waitress we had was so pretty.when i looked down at her hands they were a mess.nails were bitten so badly.it looked disgusting.i don’t bite my nails anymore…..thank god!

  20. This will shock most people. I’m an adult married man and a regular, athletic guy who bites his nails to the nubs (FINGERNAILS AND TOENAILS!) I used to be ashamed that I bite my toenails and was often caught as a child and teen. I now do it very privately but when I’m barefoot or wear flip flops it is obvious my toenails are badly bitten. People sometimes remark but it doesn’t bother me. I am also a hardcore fingernail biter and do it when and where I feel like it – much to my wife’s annoyance. My hands are on the rugged side so my nail nubs go with them. I’m just hard-wired to bite my nails. I accept it as part of who I am.

  21. im 14 and have a really bad biting issue to the point whr my fingers r litteary bleedein. i was watching this show and they said that most of the time when people bite their nails they are boarder line deppresed…… but i dont know if i belive that though

  22. I know that its hard to stop I have tryed to stop I’m 26 and I have been biting my nails since I can remember I wish I can stop

  23. ok.

  24. “here is one simple explanation of why so many of us might actually choose to pursue this disgusting habit of gnawing off the tips of our fingers.”

    That’s impartial, then.

  25. it is such a disgusting irritating habit – my husband does it continually. the continual chomping of nails and chewing and picking of skin drives me insane. and he doesn\’t think it should be a problem. for the person who has to live with it, it is a bit like fingernails being scratched up and down a black board. JUST STOP DOING IT IN FRONT OF PEOPLE!

  26. So i bite my nails like crazy and I have been diagnosed bipolar manic derpressive, i do have high anxiety level andn slight OCD and i have TRIED EVERYTHING to stop. Obviously these mental issues trigger my biting but lately it\’s been redicuous. I hope everyday that I will stop, but its so hard, because I DONT EVEN NOTICE IM DOING IT. but to let people who have family members or friends that want to quit, saying its disgusting and nasty doesnt help, it triggers more anxiety and stress so they bite more. I mean come on, nail biters arent blind. Just remember nail biting is a touchy subject to talk about, because some people, like myself whos been trying to quit for 6 years, take offense

  27. I’ve been biting as long as I can remember. I found a picture of myself at 2 years old biting. I used to bite the actual nail, but since I was a teenager it’s now just the surrounding skin, and I’ve tried every trick in the book to stop. Two nails are deformed because of it, but I’ve learned to deal with that; there could be plenty worse things. My sisters are the only ones who comment about it. I find myself doing it when I’m bored, and now in my 30s I just figure it’s part of who I am. I’d love to be able to stop, but can’t.

  28. Im 22 years old and have been biting my nails since i was young. Ive tried to stop but nothing works. I can resist biting my index finger but the thought of biting the nail still shows as i constantly drag it across my teeth. I do believe its an oral fixation with subconcious stress or anxiety. I find it easier to avoid nail biting by chewing on plastic strass or the lolipop sticks. But i still bite my nails… eventually people will get over calling it disgusting because there are far mote disgusting things we could do.lol

  29. I’ve been biting my nails for as long as i can remember, but i cant stop no matter what i do. I tried nail polish, bad tasting stuff, and even fake nails, but nothing helps, i still bite my nails. I dont even realize when i am doing it, it just happens. I hate how my nails look and i really want to stop but i just dont know how to.

  30. I\’ve been biting my nails for as long as i can remember, but i cant stop no matter what i do. I tried nail polish, bad tasting stuff, and even fake nails, but nothing helps, i still bite my nails. I dont even realize when i am doing it, it just happens. I hate how my nails look and i really want to stop but i just dont know how to.

  31. For all the nail biters that would like to quit –
    I have chewed my nails since I was a child. I am now 40 and was able recently to completely quit. I was diagnosed with Lyme disease 4 months ago and as part of a herbal diet to kill the bacteria I started taking the amino acid l-arginine every nite before bed. I started with 1/4 tsp per night for several weeks and slowly worked up to one tsp per night. I can’t explain it but my nails started to grow quickly and they got very healthy looking and I completly lost the urge to bite them anymore. I have been free from biting for over 2 months now! I thank God for giving me the victory through Christ Jesus my Lord! Galatians 3:13

  32. I used to bite my nails. Only because I couldn’t stand having a sharp edge on my nail. One day at school I saw a girl that had nails that were bitten way past her fingertips and looked
    D I S G U S T I N G. From that day on my nails never went anywhere near my mouth. I’m actually proud to say that I have very long nails ^w^

  33. i gave up biting my finger nails at 21…..preety long tym… but it hppnd by taking a decision in a train…..

  34. I bite my nails pretty regularly, I would not mind stopping, my wife does not like it. I’m ok with it mostly. I do it out of stress sometimes. I think it is REALLY IMPORTANT to stop and think about why I am doing something and not just take other peoples input on why I am. I can get stressed but if folks are like me STRESSSSSS is seen as such a negative word in many ways. I am stressed sometimes, but more often then not I am just bored. Usually I am bored because many of the things around me (Real Estate School for instance) is just flat out boring…it’s easy. I remind myself this is not some negative aspect of my personality, it’s more like I need something more dynamic to take on.

  35. As a child, I had a friend who bit her nails constantly. I was getting quite annoyed by it, because she had been starting to have her nails bleed. I didn’t like blood, so I couldn’t be near her. When we became teens, she was still biting her nails, so I wanted her to stop. Everytime that I saw her biting her nails, I would lightly pinch her hand to show her that she was biting her nails. In a few months, she began to stop biting her nails, and now her nails are longer than mine (I file my nails regularly).

  36. As a child, I had a friend who bit her nails constantly. I was getting quite annoyed by it, because she had been starting to have her nails bleed. I didn\’t like blood, so I couldn\’t be near her. When we became teens, she was still biting her nails, so I wanted her to stop. Everytime that I saw her biting her nails, I would lightly pinch her hand to show her that she was biting her nails. In a few months, she began to stop biting her nails, and now her nails are longer than mine (I file my nails regularly).

  37. the world disapproves nail biters..it is not a pleasing scene. i don’t usually comment but this time felt the need.

  38. I used to bite my nails but I got told by my dentist to stop because I’m getting removable braces on Wednesday and if I didn’t stop I won’t be allowed to get the braces.

  39. i have been biting my nails.i have tried fake nails and they havent helped i just try to bite them.i do agree that it is due to nerviousness and stress and other things.i have no idea how to stop my addiction to bitting my nails..

  40. nice hit article :) smart getting

  41. I’ve biten through acrylic nails. True story.

  42. this article is weak and if you are a nailbiter like me you will probably agree. this told me nothing from a medical standpoint. i was looking to see if we are deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral in our body and what would we need to take in order to stop the natural craving for the mineral or whatever it is in our fingernails that our body is asking for us to put in.
    i’m 37 years old and it is so hard to stop. i do not get nervous but when i read the internet all day i do chew on them. if anyone has a real solution to this or knows what i should try to ingest as a supplement or mineral or vitamin please let me know. thanks.

  43. You are able to buy some disgusting tasting thing that you can put on your fingers (normally for quitting thumb sucking) but I can only but guess that it’ll help? I’m thinking about trying it out…

  44. Hi

  45. I’ve been biting my nails since I was a little kid. It used to be really bad, I would constantly get staph infections in my left and right middle fingers! It was terrible, I would bite them down so far they would bleed. I still bite them, just not every day and not so aggressively. It has come to a point where I HATE NAILS. Having long nails is gross so me. They collect dirt no matter how many times I wash my hands. So I keep my nails cut past the tips because if they grow long I will just bite them off. I WOULD LIKE TO STOP, but honestly I dont think I can smh It soothes me

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