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Are You Biting Your Nails?

February 12, 2011

Tags: order, Are You Biting Your Nails?, cello player, children, coconut oil, doctor, emery board, gardener, hair pulling, hangnail, nail biting, nail biting triggers, nail eating, nail polish, nails, obsessive-compulsive disorder, onychophagia, psychiatric disorders, skin – dry, teenagers, trichotillomania, winter

Don’t.

Of course, that bit of advice is not sufficient – even when you are mortally ashamed that you do bite your nails.

You are in good company: About one third of young children and nearly half of all teenagers bite their nails, and some take it into their adult lives. Doctors have a scientific-sounding name for it – onychophagia (which just means: nail eating) and lump it together with other psychiatric disorders like hair pulling (trichotillomania) and certain eating disorders as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. But I don’t want you to run around with a psychiatry label – I just want to apply a little common sense.

Nail biting is more common in the winter: the skin is dryer, hangnails are more frequent – and before you know you are falling back into the old habit and bite your nails. Once you start, it is hard to stop – it is as if your fingers are screaming to be eaten.

If getting a fancy nail job done, doesn’t help – or if you have similar occupations like I have: doctor, gardener, cello player, neither of which should be done with lacquered fangs – perhaps these few tricks works for you:

• Carry an emery board with you all the time, and as soon as you have a hard spot around your nails, file it away – because those are the precursors of hangnails.

• At least twice a day, rub your hands with coconut oil. Don’t use any petrolatum-based lotion; they make it worse. If you fingertips are nice and soft, there is no reason to start biting. Carry a little container with coconut oil with you (food quality – same as you use for frying).

• Find out what makes you bite – boredom triggers it in me. So, I avoid boredom.

• Ask your friends to remind you not to bite.

• Admire your beautiful unbitten nails.
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

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