Nail & Skin Disorders

Are Nail Biting Woes Over?

Cosmetics marketer in the Netherlands says he's found a cure to habitual nail biting.

Though most people refer to nail biting as simply a bad habit, doctors say it is often a symptom of stress or obsessive compulsive disorder, and can even lead to infection or disfigurement. In the Netherlands, Alain-Raymond van Abbe, a former health industry and cosmetics marketer, says he’s found a cure to onchophagy, or habitual nail biting.

According to an article by The Associated Press, van Abbe estimates that about 600 million people worldwide suffer from pathological nail biting. It is more common in adolescents than adults, as some studies have shown that about 45% of youngsters bite their nails. It drops to about 20% as children age and learn to cope with stress or become too embarrassed by the appearance of their nails.

Van Abbe’s four-week treatment begins by fitting a tooth guard that molds to the client’s upper or lower teeth. The “preventer” stops people from being able to bite, but is easily removed for eating. He developed his one-month solution after conducting research for two years and completing a study that tested 150 participants. “After four weeks, the impulse disturbance is so frustrated that it is controlled,” he told The AP.

As far as after-treatment nail-repair goes, Van Abbe filled a renovated brick house in Venlo, Netherlands with manicurist stations to begin reviving clients’ damaged fingernails and toenails.

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