QUESTION: I have picked and chewed at the skin around my nails for many, many years. I have tried simple things like wearing gloves, neosporin, liquid bandaids... My fingers will heal slightly if I really concentrate on stopping but then I always start doing it again, no matter what. I have always just thought of this as a habit but after seeing the site I am wondering if it could be more. I have never been a nail biter,or have never picked skin anywhere else but my fingers, and have never had any other OCD tendencies. I haven't felt like I have depression or low confidence. Could this be related to "picking" or another underlying cause?
ANSWER: The idea that nail biting and picking are typically related to OCD or depression is open to more and more contradictory research. At least statistically they more typically go with anxiety issues. Any of these problems can come from a variety of causes so you have to look at your own individual experience You can do this on your own or with the help of a therapist experienced with these problems.
Ted A. Grossbart, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA