Nail Biting

Nail biting and how to quit

Nearly half of all kids and teenagers bite their nails. Many are not able to kick the habit when they grow up. Most adults who bite nails must have done it also as a child. No one is entirely sure if nail biting is a nervous disorder or genetic but anecdotal evidence shows that children whose parents bite their nails are more likely to become nail-biters. At times nail biting is a sure sign of mental or emotional strain. It shows up if one is nervous or suffering from anxiety. It may also happen if one is bored or feeling insecure due to any reason.

Nail biting or onychophagia has no permanent side effect. It is merely something unsightly at most. But it does have lesser side effects.

Side effects of Nail biting.

1. It makes nails grow in strange ways – Chomping on the nails also causes small tears on the tissue which surrounds it. The damage caused in this way prevents nails from growing the way they should. This gives rise to strange looking nails.
2. Causes chipped tooth – Nails are made of a strong substance known as keratin. Biting on nails makes them tougher. Chewing on nails may cause a tooth to become chipped or cracked. The damage to your nails may extend to your smile as well.
3. It causes illness – Our nails are home to numerous germs. We use our nails t touch and feel, and this causes transference of pathogen. Our nails may be infected by salmonella and E Coli, and when you bite your nails, these bacteria are easily transmitted to the mouth and the rest of your body, where they can cause an infection. Your fingernails may even be twice as dirty as your fingers.
4. Causes nail infections – Nail bites are sensitive to paronychia, a disease of the skin that occurs around the nails. Biting your nails causes bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms to invade through small cracks or abrasions, causing swelling, redness, and pus around the nail.
5. Warts – Warts on the fingers which are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) are common in people who bite their nails. These warts can very possibly spread to the mouth and lips when you bite down on your nails.

Prevention of nail-biting

1. Get a manicure regularly – Get a professional manicure in a salon or spa. This cleans your nails and the surrounding skin, so you do not have any material to bite. You may have to repeat this every week until your habit breaks.
2. Use a “no bite” polish – It is possible to buy neutral colored nail polish that tastes terrible. These are effective at keeping you from taking a bite out of your nails when you feel like. The Mavala Stop nail biting polish is a reputed brand available in India. Other well known brand includes Onyx Pro and Probelle stop-nail biting polish. They are highly effective and act very fast.
3. Take up another habit – Try chewing a toothpick or chew gum (preferably sugar-free). These are great ways to get rid of nail biting. Exchange one habit for another that is more tolerable. However, do not take up nervous snacking as that leads to weight gain.

Conclusion

Set manageable goals when trying to quit nail biting. Instead of quitting suddenly make a promise not to bite your nails from your right hand (or left). Make the problem smaller every day. If after trying several ways you are still struggling ask your doctor if therapy is a good solution.

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