The Connection Between Nail Biting and Hair Pulling
Nail biting, also known as onychophagy or onychophagia is an another compulsive habit I deal with on a daily basis in addition to hair pulling.
It’s very common for people with trichotillomania to bite their nails, many of us struggle with mulitple impulse disorders.
Both grooming habits are on the OCD spectrum and they are incredibly hard to quit doing.
Usually if I try to stop pulling my hair, I find that my nail biting becomes worse.
If I try to quit one, the other one is there as a back up coping mechanism.
I am a hair puller, nail biter, thumb sucker, nose and skin picker.
I have all sorts of these grooming habits that I find hard to control.
With my nails, I chew them down to a nub and it hurts a lot of the time.
It’s gotten so bad I’ve had to put antibiotic ointment and band-aids on them to stop myself and the sting of it.
I would love to stop but I am not mentally ready to do that…. yet… doesn’t mean I won’t just not yet.
Is Nail Biting A Mental Health Disorder?
The world of psychology is looking more closely at what was once just considered “bad grooming habits.”
It’s on the OCD spectrum and although it may not distort my looks as much as my hair does, it’s still very painful sometimes.
I’ve had really nasty infections in my fingers, the kind that build up with puss …🤢 yea, gross, seriously.
I bite my nails down pretty far, until it hurts, then I stop and I chew all the skin around them.
I love to eat nails.
I eat a ton of nails each year, I wonder how much? 🤔
I have no idea why I do it, just like my hair pulling.
It’s become a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety for the longest time.
Ever since I was little, I have been chewing my nails and the skin around my nails.
Is it life threatening? No.
I don’t really condemn myself for the nail biting as much as the trichotillomania.
How Are Nail Biting and Trichotillomania Similar?
Nail Biting Is A BFRB Like Trichotillomania
Nail biting is a body focused repetitive behavior (BFRB) just like trichotillomania, dermatillomania (skin picking), thumbsucking and other habits like cheek biting and dermatophagia (skin eating), – all of them seem to co-exist in people with related disorders.
I do all of them and sometimes at the same time.
I pick, bite, eat, pull, suck… you name it.
If I try to control myself and do none of them, my body breaks out into a sweat..this happens a lot in public where I’m trying not to do anything.
I sweat in places you wouldn’t think someone could sweat, even my belly button will sweat..
I exude a lot of nervous energy and it either comes out in some sort of body focused repetitive behavior or sweating.
Look at my thumbs from all this… I suck my thumb and bite my nails so much it looks like toe!
Tools To Quit Nail Biting
If I’m ever ready, I plan to program my Keen bracelets to help me stop nail biting.
My Keen bracelets helped me with my hair pulling so much and I know they can do the same for nail biting too, I’m just not ready.
Even as I type this, I stop to take breaks to bit a little piece of nail sticking out the corner…
There’s some sort of nail biting solution you can put on your nails, like a clear coat that is supposed to be hard and nasty… maybe I will double up and use Keen and that stuff?
Probably Not Going To Stop Nail Biting Anytime Soon 🤷
Here’s what I have found with nail biting, if I try to quit, I increase in doing something else…
It’s been that way with my hair pulling.
The less I do that, the more I find myself picking my nose or chewing away the inside of my cheeks.
So whether or not I’ll every quit biting my nails, I don’t know…
Right now it feels like the lesser of the things I’m dealing with..you know?
I’ve changed my attitude a lot about my BFRB’s, I’m no longer kicking myself about them.
These are real disorders that people deal with, most people who have trichotillomania also have multiple other behaviors they are dealing with; like nail biting, skin picking, etc.
It’s really nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
Related: The Connection Between Trichotillomania and Anxiety