What Is Nail Biting?
Nail Biting or onychophagia is one of the common stress relieving habits. An individual can bite his/her nails during excitement or stress or boredom and inactivity. The particular habit can be a learned habit from other family members. It is regarded as one of the nervous habits. People can do thumb-sucking, hair-pulling or twisting, nose-picking, tooth-grinding along with nail-biting.
Most of the children belong to the age group of 10-18 generally bite their nails. During puberty, it is one of the most common habits. Some adults that belong to the age group of 18-22 bite their nails. Generally, by age 30, people stop this habit on their own.Most of the individuals don’t even realize that they are biting nails. They may be involved in other activities such as watching television, talking on the phone or reading while biting their nails. Nail biting is associated with biting the soft tissues and cuticles surrounding the nails.
What Are The Symptoms Of Nail Biting?
Nail biting occurs when you place your nails inside your mouth in order to bite them with your teeth. It is associated with poor nail health and infection risk. Some people bite nails to keep them short and set them in a uniform size. Nail biting can be associated with poor skin health. The overall condition is known as onychophagia.
Nail biting is generally associated with the various effects in fingers as well as mouth. Digestive systems can also be affected by this particular habit. Since nail biting is a habit, it is not involved with any symptoms. But, if you unconsciously bite your nails, then you can be sure about it by observing the following points:
Biting nails is associated with broken skin and cuticle. If cuticles are not properly removed, then they are prone to microbial as well as viral infections such as Paronychia Saliva may. You can be sure about it by observing the redness of your nail associated skin. The redness is a proof of infection.
If you are a regular nail biter, then your nails can be deformed due to the nail bed’s destruction. Your nail biting habit can lead to various oral problems such as malocclusion and gingival injury associated with anterior teeth.
You can be a sufferer of frequent stomach problems.
What Are The Causes Of Nail Biting?
Nail biting is generally associated with three causes, and they are anxiety, nervousness, and boredom. They are described as follows:
- Anxiety: Most of the people bite their nails due to anxiety. It can occur before the exam results, any unexpected situation that may be tough to handle. Most of the time, people bite their nails unconsciously.
- Nervousness: Nervousness is a common symptom in most of the people, and some of them bite their nails in order to relieve their stress.
- Boredom: If an individual doesn't have any work to do, then they can consciously or unconsciously bite their nails.
What Are The Things One Should Do To Manage Nail Biting?
You can do the following things if you are anxious or nervous:
- Just notice how anxiety and nervousness are affecting you as well as carefully observe the reason for which you are feeling anxious.
- Take a deep breath.
- If you are feeling low or experiencing boredom, then focus on some engaging or interesting things- a project, hobby, conversation with friend or relative.
- You can engage yourself in some creative works.
- Stay active all time.
- Maintain your hygiene.
What Are The Things One Should Avoid To Manage Nail Biting?
You should not do the following things if you are anxious or nervous:
- Don’t try to isolate yourself.
- Don’t spend a long time by thinking about one single topic.
- Don’t feel hopeless.
- Don’t try to hide your emotions all time.
What Are The Best Foods For Nail Biting?
Nail biting is mainly associated with anxiety and nervousness. So, you should take such kind of foods that can reduce your anxiety level.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are regarded as calming food sources that are needed by the gut bacteria in order to produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid). They are all very essential for your mood. Some probiotics rich foods are dark chocolate, yoghurt, pickles, miso soup, tempeh, etc.
- Water: You should keep your body hydrated all time, even a mild dehydration problem can create mood swings. Dehydration affects our all over body and mind. So, you should take a sufficient amount of water to keep away your anxiety.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants are regarded as superfoods as they can alleviate your anxious mood. They are also helpful in order to protect your brain against free radical stress (oxidative stress). Oxidative stress can result in inflammation that can hamper neurotransmitter production. So, you should take beta-carotene rich foods such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, kale, and spinach as well as Vitamin-C rich foods such as citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, red peppers, and broccoli, and Vitamin-E rich foods avocado, almonds, sunflower seeds, sweet potatoes, and spinach.
- Selenium rich foods: Mineral selenium works as an anti-depressant. You can find this mineral in halibut, Brazil nuts, chicken, turkey, and eggs.
- Zinc rich foods: Zinc is associated with antioxidant properties that can lower your anxious feelings. Zinc rich foods are pumpkin seeds, lamb, chickpeas, cocoa powder, chicken, spinach, mushrooms, cashews, yogurt, etc.
- Magnesium rich foods: Magnesium is regarded as a calming mineral that can help you to relax better. Magnesium rich foods are eggs, spinach, legumes, nuts, avocado, seeds, Swiss chard, etc.
- Tryptophan: It is an amino acid that is required by the body in order to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin that helps to regulate sleep and moods. Tryptophan can be found in most of the protein-rich foods such as turkey and other meats, seeds, nuts, eggs, and beans.
- Herbal teas: Herbal teas are associated with chamomile, kava kava, and skullcap. They help to reduce your anxiety level.
What Are The Worst Foods For Nail Biting?
You should avoid following foods which increase your anxiety level:
- Sugar and processed foods: Processed and sweet foods are bad for your mental health. Sugar and refined carbohydrates affect our blood sugar level. As per a study, women are prone to these kinds of foods than men that are responsible for their depression and mood changes. Fried foods and processed meats are associated with inflammation and various heart diseases that are linked with mental health issues. So, you should stay away from processed foods as they are nothing but vegetable oil and simple sugars. Few processed foods are bacon, granola bar, and instant ramen.
- Alcohol: Alcohol works as a depressant, and it can make you anxious. It creates dips and spikes in blood sugar that can dehydrate you and can cause disturbed brain functions. It results in anxious feelings. Drinking alcohol can cause severe changes in neurotransmitters that can result in excessive nervousness and anxiety.
- Gluten: Gluten is a protein that is found in barley, wheat, and rye products. As it can trigger anxiety related symptoms, you should avoid gluten foods to avoid nail biting.
- Dairy products: You should reduce intake of dairy products to reduce anxiety. Some dairy products that should be avoided are custard, ice cream, pudding, and cheese.
What Are The Medicines For Nail Biting?
What Are The Tips To Manage Nail Biting?
If you want to reduce or stop your nail biting habit, then you should work on your anxiety issue. Practice meditation and yoga.