Annie's Mailbox: Husband has bizarre fingernail habit

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Dear Annie: My intelligent, good-looking husband of 35 years bites his fingernails to the quick and gnaws on the skin around them. This drives me crazy. His fingernails are only half the size they were when I met him.

He once tried to stop, but then began chewing on the inside of his cheeks, which became sore. So now he chews gum constantly, chews on the inside of his mouth and still bites his fingernails. Even when in the other room, I can hear him smacking, slurping and chewing. I don't know if I should buy him a pacifier or dump a bucket of water on him. This is so bizarre. Any suggestions?

- Creeped Out

Dear Creeped Out: A pacifier might not be a bad idea. It sounds as if your husband has some anxiety and stress, and what might have been a bad habit has turned into obsessive-compulsive behavior. It can be treated with behavioral therapy and possibly medication, but he must be willing to seek help. Contact the Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation (ocfoundation.org), P.O. Box 961029, Boston, MA 02196, for additional information.

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