Nail Biting Causes: What Might Be Causing The Habit Of Nail Biting

When it comes to bad habits, it’s important to know that they might be so bad as to interfere with your physical as well as mental health, and they might even stop you from achieving your goals. That’s why it’s so essential to recognize them and work towards breaking them or replacing them with good ones. Reportedly, most bad habits are caused by two things: stress and boredom. Whatever your habits may be, biting your nails or even wasting time on the internet, the aforementioned are the two main things that might be causing them.

However, there are ways to overcome bad habits. You can do so in different ways, but one of the best ways is replacing them with good ones, as research suggests. You have to find substitutes for your bad habits, try to avoid the situations that trigger them, as well as think of yourself breaking free of the bad habit as a way of motivating yourself. One of the common habits that people tend to complain about is nail-biting. As someone who has been a nail-biter up until about a year ago, I completely understand the struggle it causes. It tends to cause embarrassment and it limits you and your interactions with people to a certain degree.

What is nail-biting, exactly? Well, nail-biting is also known as onychophagia. Nail-biting is the process of damaging your fingernails as a result of various reasons which we are going to elaborate further in this article. According to Psychology Today, nail-biting can be a temporary nondestructive behavior that initially is simply a cosmetic concern. However, with time, it may develop into a severe, long-term problem. Nail-biting or onychophagia, alongside other body-focused repetitive behavior disorders, is reportedly classified in the DSM-5 as an “Other Specified Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorder.” According to Healthline, the habit of nail-biting usually doesn’t begin before the age of 4. There are many cases when it has started between the age of 4 and 6. For many people, the habit of nail-biting might continue well into adulthood.

What are the symptoms of nail-biting? First and foremost, it’s the damage caused in the fingernails. In some cases, nail-biting might even happen at the same time as some other body-focused repetitive behaviors such as hair pulling or skin picking. Psychology Today infers that people who tend to bite their nails report to having feelings of distress before biting their nails and feel relief after doing so. However, it’s essential to remember that biting your nails does not only cause damage to the fingernails, tissue, or cuticles but it also might cause mouth injuries, dental problems and also might cause infections.

nail biting causes

Nail Biting Causes

There are plenty of things that might be causing you to succumb to the bad habit of biting your nails. Been there done that! Below you will find some of the nail-biting causes, and remember, one of the first steps to breaking a bad habit is recognizing it.

1. Preoccupation & Boredom

When you’re preoccupied, you might feel the need to unconsciously bite your nails since it has now become a habit. Same goes with being bored.

2. Anxiety

The need to bite nails is reportedly related to a psycho-emotional state of anxiety. It has been observed that people who bite their nails have more anxiety than the people who do not succumb to this habit. When feeling stressed, some people bite their nails. Children tend to bite their nails when they are feeling anguish or when they read sad stories or do not know the lesson.

3. Learned Behavior

According to research, nail-biting can also be a learned behavior from the members of the family. It might also remain into your adult age if you tended to suck on your fingers of thumbs as a child.

4. Perfectionism

According to a study, nail-biting is a nervous habit that might be a common occurrence to people who are perfectionists. Their actions help to soften the boredom, irritation, and even dissatisfaction.

5. Genetics

As Psychology Today explains, onychophagia can also have a link to genetics, meaning some people have an inherited tendency to develop BFRBs (body-focused repetitive behavior).

nail biting causes


Overall, the habit of biting your nails might be caused by various reasons. However, that does not mean you can not overcome it. Simply the thought of having better nails, good-looking and healthy hands and skin is enough motivation to keep you going and try to break this very damaging habit. There is no better thing than making sure you’re protecting yourself from the possible infections, from the dental problems you might face, and making sure you’re contributing to your good health.


You might also be interested in:

12 Easy And At-Home Remedies For Beautiful Nails.

6 Natural Remedies For Ingrown Toenails.