"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Study finds recent approach to stop nail biting and other repetitive habits

July 21, 2023 – A technique called “habitat replacement” helped greater than half of participants in a research project break repetitive habits like nail biting, hair pulling and skin scratching, in response to a brand new study.

The researchers worked for six weeks with 268 individuals who had been diagnosed with a disorder wherein they repeatedly bite their nails or the within their cheeks or pull out their hair as a consequence of stress.

Half of the participants within the study whoJAMA Dermatology On Wednesday,were instructed in habit alternative, which meant gently rubbing their fingertips, palm, or upper arm a minimum of twice a day or at any time when they felt the urge to perform the unwanted habit. The others were assigned to the control group and told they’d be placed on a waiting list for instructions, which they’d receive after the study ended.

About 53 percent of participants reported seeing some improvement, compared with about 20 percent of participants in a control group. Nail biters appeared to profit essentially the most from the habit change, the study found. About 80 percent of participants within the treatment group reported being satisfied with the workout, while 86 percent said they’d recommend it to a friend.

“The rule is to touch the body only lightly,” said lead study writer Steffen Moritz, PhD, head of the clinical neuropsychology group on the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany. NBC News. “Under stress, you may perform movements faster, but not with more pressure.”

These sorts of habits are called body-focused repetitive behaviors or BFRBs and affect about 5% of the world's population. accordingly the interest group TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors.

Researchers told NBC News they hope habit alternative will likely be added to behavioral therapies comparable to uncoupling and habit reversal. In habit reversal, persons are taught to do something like clench their fists once they feel the urge to perform the BFRB. In uncoupling, a BFRB is unlearning by changing a movement on the last minute. Nail biters might move their hand to their mouth but touch a distinct a part of their face.