Stress and boredom are the main nail-biting culprits for most people. The habit is often a way to ease anxiety or to keep at least one part of the body occupied while the mind lacks interest. Frustration and loneliness are additional emotional triggers that can lead to nail biting. Some research suggests genes may play a role.
Just about everyone has had at least one nail-biting moment in his or her life. Maybe you found yourself with nails between teeth while sitting through a boring class lecture, anticipating a career-changing meeting with your supervisor, or anxiously watching the fate of your favorite horror-movie heroine.
Biting fingernails is a habit that often starts in childhood. Studies show 60% of children and 45% of teenagers bite their nails. Nail biting becomes less common after age 18, but it can continue into adulthood. Many adults and children are often unaware they are biting their nails because doing so has become a habit.
The problem can range from a mild, occasional habit to an ongoing and more serious problem.
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