Nail biting is a common habit that many people do without even realizing it. There aren’t many habits that hold a worse reputation than nail biting, and still, that never seems to stop people.
Unconsciously, people start biting their nails while involved activities, such as reading, watching television or talking on the phone.
The habit is practiced more in times of stress or excitement, or in times of boredom.
If you have the habit of nail biting, it is high time you stopped. The side effects can be more than cosmetic.
Mouth Infections: People who bite their nails usually do not wash their hands before biting. Thus, there is a high probability of getting bacteria and other harmful microbes inside the mount. Acute or chronic infection to the mouth, lips or gums is very likely to happen. Did you know that there are about 2,000 types of skin infections that were discovered in nail salons? Just imagine how prone you are to bacteria and diseases because of this habit disorder.
Nail infections: Nail biting also increases the risk of a nail infection. As you bite your nails, tiny tears or abrasions occur around the skin near your nails. Harmful bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms can enter through these tears or abrasions, thus increasing the risk of infection. The infection can lead to swelling, redness and pus around your nail, which can be difficult to treat if you do not stop nail biting.
Stomach infection: When you bite your nails, harmful microbes are transferred from your nails to your mouth and make their way to your gut. Once inside the stomach, these microbes can cause gastrointestinal infections that lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Children with a nail biting habit are at a greater risk of digestive and enteric diseases like intestinal worm infections due to their weak immune system.
Damages nail bed: Apart from making you more susceptible to nail infections, biting your nails can cause severe damage to the nail bed, cuticles as well as the surrounding skin. These habits cause elevation of the nail at the distal part and destroy the protection offered by the hyponychium at the distal end.
Tips to stop nail biting
- When watching television or reading a book, cover your nails with tape or stickers or wear gloves to prevent biting.
- When you are stressed or tense, try playing with a stress ball to keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.
- Maintain a healthy diet to help your nails repair and grow well.
- Consult a doctor and consider behavioral therapy, such as habit reversal training.
- Cut your nails regularly and trim them short. You will not be as tempted to bite on short nails.
- Get some bitter-tasting nail polish from the market and apply it on your nails. The bitter taste will discourage you from biting your nails.
- You can even apply the bitter tasting juice of Indian lilac or bitter gourd to your nails.
- Treat yourself to a professional manicure to break the habit of nail biting. You can opt for acrylic nails or add nail décor like jewels, patterns and textures.