All of us are creatures of habit. Some good and some bad habits.
Nail biting is a habit that affects both adults and children.
Often the result of anxiety, nervousness, and in some cases boredom, nail-biting is a widely spread habit that continues to grow.
Let’s examine some gentle, but effective methods that can make a difference for both adults and children.
Essential oils can be a great, natural way to help you break this ugly habit. Read on to find out which essential oils are best to stop biting your nails and how to use them.
- 1 Why People Bite Their Nails
- 2 How To Stop Nail-Biting
- 3 Potential Dangers And Warnings
Why People Bite Their Nails
So far, there is no single explanation as to why we bite nails. Scientists have given a number of different reasons. Some of them explain it with fairly conventional causes such as stress, tiredness, boredom, or a desire for comfort.
Others offer more complex explanations. They claim that it is a habit left from our time as primates and that we do it instinctively or that it is a sign of OCD. A study published in 2015 even associates nail-biting to perfectionism!
Nail-biting in kids
What about kids? Statistics say that 30% of all kids have this bad habit. Nail-biting in kids is one of the common “nervous habits,” along with nose picking, thumb-sucking, and hair twisting. Kids may also bite their nails for different reasons –stress relief, curiosity, habit, boredom, or even imitation of an adult (most likely one of the parents).
Should you be worried if your kid is biting their nails? If the child does this moderately or as a reaction to stressful situations (for instance, before school exams), there’s no reason to worry.
It’s very likely that the kid will eventually stop biting the nails over time; however, in about 20% of them, nail-biting will continue into adulthood. Additional measures to offer support, comfort and relieve some of that anxiety for a child may be needed to help break the habit early.
Whether it happens in adults or kids, nail-biting is a difficult habit to break. If you bite your nails, you will not only end up having bloodied fingertips, but you will also ingest all the germs that have accumulated on your hands throughout the day. Are you ready to stop? Let’s explore some solution.
How To Stop Nail-Biting
Why Anti-Nail-Biting Polish Is Not A Great Option
One of the most commonly used products that can help kick this habit is anti-nail-biting polishes.
These nail polishes have a horrible taste that remains in your mouth for a few minutes after you’ve tried to bite your nails. The smell of the chemicals used in the making of the product (nitrocellulose, butyl acetate, and isopropyl alcohol) makes it even more repulsive.
These two factors combined are sure to make you stop biting your nails. However, people who have used anti-biting polishes claim that after a while they got used to the horrid taste. As a result, the nail-biting continued.
Besides this huge downside, there is another, more important one. Anti-biting nail polishes are based on chemicals, which makes them highly unhealthy, especially after a long-term use.
How about a better solution?
A more natural approach…
Essential Oils As A Natural Option To Stop Nail-Biting
Essential oils may be the last thing that comes to mind as a nail-biting solution, but they can actually be very efficient. If nothing, they’re certainly much healthier than chemical-based nail polishes.
The most efficient essential oils are those with a bitter taste, such as:
- Bitter orange
- Melaleuca/Tea Tree
- Oregano oil
- Clove oil
- Neem oil
All you need to do is apply a few drops of the essential oil onto a cotton ball and smear it around the cuticles and under the nails. Since oils get absorbed or wear off during the day, you might need to repeat this process several times a day.
If you want to make the essential oils even more efficient, (i.e. make them taste more deterrent), combine them with garlic powder, cayenne pepper, onion juice, or hot pepper powder.
On top of having that unpleasant taste that will make you stop gnawing your nails, these essential oils also have antibacterial and antifungal properties that help minimize the damage to the nails and cuticles.
Extra tip: If you want to strengthen your nails, combine 2 tablespoons of vitamin E oil with 10 drops of myrrh, lemon, and frankincense essential oils. Apply on the cuticles every day.
Potential Dangers And Warnings
Even though essential oils are a great natural way to stop biting your nails, you need to be aware of some potential dangers before you start using them:
Diluting the Essential Oils
Essential oils contain highly concentrated properties of the herb they’re extracted from. Even though some of them like chamomile, lavender, and rose oil, are perfectly safe to use on the skin, most essential oils need to be diluted before use.
Usually, carrier oils such as coconut or almond oil, are used to dilute essential oils. The ratio should be a teaspoon of carrier oil to 4 drops of essential oil. The amount of essential oil should be even smaller if it is going to be used on kids or babies.
If used undiluted, essential oils can easily penetrate the skin, especially if it’s damaged like in the case of nail-biting. They can enter your bloodstream, causing allergic reactions or irritations.
Essential Oils And Sun Exposure
Citrus-based oils, such as the bitter orange oil from our list, can increase skin’s sensitivity to UV radiation, even in cases of minimal sun exposure. This can result in discoloration, blistering, and burns.
That’s why you must never apply these oils if you’re planning to go out. To stay on the safe side, apply them to your nails before going to bed.
Using Essential Oils On Kids
Essential oils shouldn’t be used undiluted on kids’ skin. As mentioned before, they should be diluted more for kids than for adults.
Some essential oils, such as oregano and clove oil from our list, are considered hot and can damage the skin. Others, like tea tree oil, are not meant for indigestion, whether diluted or undiluted.
Never combine essential oils with the above-mentioned spices (pepper, onion, or garlic) when you’re using them on your kids’ nails, as young kids and infants may rub their eyes or put hands in their mouth.
Nail-biting is a gross but very common habit. Chronic nail biters have probably tried a number of methods, such as anti-nail-biting polishes, in order to put this habit to rest, often without success.
When used with caution, bitter-tasting essential oils can be a great, natural way to break this habit for good!