Nail biting: the causes and cures that can break the habit

Why do people bit their nails?

There are two main factors I see that appear to trigger nail biting in most people - anxiety and boredom, although there may be a slight genetic element in some people. The habit definitely seems to reduce anxiety in some people, whereas boredom and loneliness can be the factor in other people who are not stressed at all.

For some people with anxiety, biting their fingernails can be a symptom of the problem obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which is an extreme way of trying to deal with underlying anxiety. This can also present with compulsions such as washing your hands several times repeatedly and, in the same way, checking door locks compulsively.

Read on to find out about nail biting in young children and cures worth trying.


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