Biting your nails is a very bad habit. Most people bite their nails when they are either stressed or nervous. Some even claim that this inadvertent behavior soothes calms their nerves when they are tensed.
This habit does not only leave you susceptible to infections (the bacteria and viruses can enter your body through your mouth; and also pass to your face), it also damages your nails and cuticles.
In this article, we will find out the real reason people bite their nails, and what can be done to salvage the situation.
Why you should not bite your nails
• It disfigures your nails- When you bite your nails, they lose their shape; giving them the unkempt look. This makes your nails grow abnormally, hence, disfiguring your nails.
• It makes you susceptible to diseases- Your hands are a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. These bacteria and germs sometimes stay hidden in your nails. Biting your nails can cause these germs hidden under your nails to enter your body and increase your risk of getting sick.
• It can spoil your smile. There is a risk of chipping, cracking, or breaking your teeth while biting your nails. Over time, nail biting can also cause problems with your jaw.
• Social embarrassment. Nail biting can also cause restriction in social behaviors or behaviors that may need to be done in the presence of others, like drawing and writing.
• Damages nails and surrounding tissues. Biting your nails can increase the risk of ingrown nails. This can also damage the surrounding tissues.
• Can lead to gum injuries. It can also lead to teeth root damage, oral infections, and oral injuries due to the risk of scraping.
Having learned of why it is not advisable to bite your nails, let’s find out why most people struggle with this habit and why it is difficult to stop.
Why you bite your nails
Nail biting could be a sign of an underlying health condition. Temporary nail biting is relatively non-destructive. However, it can also develop into a long-term problem.
Uncontrollable nail biting that goes on to damage the nails and its surrounding tissues is considered a grooming disorder. It is often termed as onychophagia or onychophagy. This condition is classified as “an obsessive-compulsive and related disorder”.
Other factors that cause you to bite your nails are:
• The parents of the affected individual have also had a similar habit of nail biting
• Emotional or mental stress
In children, most cases of nail biting are a result of anxiety or boredom. Some children also tend to find this habit quite soothing.
As you have seen, a number of factors could be triggering the habit of nail biting. If you are a chronic nail biter, and this habit has begun damaging your nails, it is recommended that you seek medical help to identify the underlying cause of your condition.
If you are among those individuals who find themselves biting their nails during times of stress or anxiety and want to put a stop to it, here are a few tricks that may help.
How To Stop Biting Nails
Keep Your Nails Short
Cutting your nails short and keeping them neat is one of the best ways to prevent nail biting. When you don’t have anything to chew on, you will kick the habit eventually.
Get Your Manicure Game On
Pamper yourself and get a nice manicure done. Manicures can make your hands as well as nails look attractive. You will be less likely to bite your nails as you don’t want to ruin the manicure.
Keep A Check On The Triggers
Find out what triggers you to bite your nails. Do you bite your nails when you are bored? Or is it plain anxiety? Studies have shown that people resort to nail biting when they are bored, hungry, nervous, or stressed. Identify the trigger and find ways to deal with it to stop biting your nails.
Use Gloves Or Nail Stickers
Another way to stop yourself from biting your nails is to use a pair of gloves or nail stickers. While this may sound silly, if your mouth can’t find your nails, it will be far less tempted to bite them.
Keep Them Busy
Yes, keeping your hands and mouth busy might do the trick. Every time you find yourself tempted to bite your nails, get hold of a stress ball or chew gum. You will not be able to bite your nails if your hands and/or mouth are already preoccupied!
Use Bitter Nail Polish
The application of bitter-tasting nail polish is an age-old trick to prevent nail biting.
Try The Gradual Approach
You cannot stop biting your nails overnight. It is a gradual process. Stop biting one fingernail at a time, say your thumbnail, and then extend it to the other fingers, one by one, until you stop biting all nails gradually.
Try any or a combination of the above tips to see which one works the best for you.