If you’re a nail-biter, then you’ve probably had this habit for as long as you can remember. Generally, people begin biting their nails when they are a toddler, with the vast majority of teenagers and adults who bite their nails beginning before the age of four. There are multiple reasons why people take up this habit and even more reasons why people should stop. Let’s have a look at these reasons before we get onto the tips for helping you stop.
Why Do People Bite Their Nails?
The main reason why people bit their nails is simply as a way to relieve stress. It’s a habit that could be genetic – research has yet to prove this definitively, but the theory is widely believed. Or, it could simply be a learned habit that you picked up at a young age. Biting your nails is usually done unconsciously, and it’s common for people only to realize that they have been biting their nails when they notice the state their nails are in.
Unlike many other stress-relieving habits, it’s unlikely that you’ll bite your nails in your sleep. The stress that causes people to bit their nails may be both physical and emotional. You’ll find yourself more likely to bite your nails if you have underlying psychological issues, such as anxiety, depression, or an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Unfortunately, the habit of biting your nails is not a healthy one, and everyone should try to refrain from this habit, as it could lead you to become rather poorly. On the positive side, this is something that you can achieve, as long as you follow good advice. But before we get onto that, let’s have a look at the physical risks associated with biting your nails to give you some extra motivation to help you stop.
Why Shouldn’t You Bite Your Nails?
The reasons for not biting your nails range from the damage that it causes to health to issues related to your appearance, so let’s have a look at each one:
• Biting your nails can make you ill – It’s highly unlikely that each time you put your nails in your mouth, you’ve just gone to the bathroom and scrubbed them with soap and a brush to remove all the dirt from underneath them. Your nails are a hotbed for storing all sorts of germs. That means that putting your nails in your mouth could lead you to catch viruses, colds, flu, and other nasty illnesses.
• It can also give you warts – If you’ve got warts on your hands, then you put them next to your mouth, those warts will likely transfer to your lips, as well as inside your mouth, and you can get those warts on your larynx.
• It ruins your nails – Of course, if you bite your nails, then you only need to have a look at them to see the physical damage that you’re doing to them. But did you know that biting them also affects how they grow? That means that you may be doing long-term, if not permanent, damage to them. They might end up looking abnormal because of the strange way that they’ll grow due to you biting them.
• It ruins your teeth too – Biting your nails is just awful for your teeth. You can chip them, crack them, and you can even break them, thanks to biting down on your nails. This is bad for the way your smile looks, but it can also have other knock-on effects. Biting your nails is proven to contribute to jaw problems, too.
• Soreness – As a nail-biter, you’ll probably be so used to the pain around your nails that you think it’s normal. It isn’t. Biting your nails causes you unnecessary pain that can even make such everyday tasks, like typing on your laptop or writing with a pen, more difficult than it needs to be.
How to Stop Biting Your Nails – Top Tips
Now we know just how bad it is for you to bite your nails, as well as why you do it, let’s have a look at the top tips for making you stop. Follow these, and you’ll get better-looking nails. It’ll also make you less likely to get sick or cause damage to your teeth and jaw.
• Tip One: Get to the root of the problem – All the tips that follow this one will be practical ways to stop yourself from biting your nails. But you may relapse, especially when you find yourself in stressful situations. Identify the psychological or physical reasons for why you’re biting your nails. It could be work or school stress, relationship problems, financial worries. Then try to come to solutions to these issues; if that means that you seek guidance from a therapist or counselor, then this can only be a good thing. Not only will you stop biting your nails, but you’ll finally be able to get through life without the stress that’s currently causing you to bite them.
• Tip Two: Coat your nails – This is the go-to technique for lots of people who can’t help biting their nails. There are countless nail varnishes on the market that you can put onto your nails, which tastes revolting. In fact, it tastes so bad that you’ll instantly remove your nails from your mouth each time that you put them inside.
• Tip Three: Wear gloves – Just like the last tip, this is another one that will instantly make you remove your fingers from your mouth each time that you unconsciously place them inside.
• Tip Four – Invest in lots of chewing gum – There is a theory that if your mouth is occupied with gum, then there won’t be any need to put your nails in your mouth instead. Of course, gum doesn’t contain the germs that your nails do, but it also isn’t fantastic for your digestive system, so this should only be seen as a short-term fix.
• Tip Five – Get a manicure – If you spend a load of money on making your nails look gorgeous, then it’s unlikely that you’ll want all the good work to be undone by chewing on them. You may also get some extra motivation because you’ll see just how beautiful your nails can look when your teeth are not destroying them.
• Tip Six – Cut your nails very short – If there are no nails to bite, then the problem is no longer there. You need to keep on top of this, though, cutting your nails regularly, and filing them to keep them nice and smooth too.
• Tip Seven – Get your friends and family involved – Make sure to tell the people who you spend the most time with that you’re trying to stop biting your nails. Ask them to warn you each time that you put your nails in your mouth. They can act as a support network, helping you through a difficult period until the habit is broken.
• Tip Eight – Use apps and technology to break the habit – There are lots of handy smartphone apps available that can keep you motivated with breaking your habits. This will keep you informed of how many days you’ve gone without biting your nails, for example. This can allow you to set target dates, which you can then make sure to reward yourself on, as this is very important for motivation. There are even some wonderful products available that will be able to sense when you’re moving your hands towards your mouth, then warning you to stop with the action.
• Tip Nine – Exercise – Stress is the main cause of nail-biting. Stress can also be relieved enormously through regular exercise. This also helps to build up your immune system, which could have been weakened through illness. That is, illness caused by your putting your fingernails in your mouth, transferring lots of germs.
• Tip Ten – Mindfulness – Following techniques related to mindfulness can be extremely useful for people who bite their nails. As we have learned, it’s an unconscious act that we do without even realizing that we’re doing it. Mindfulness will keep you aware of all that you are doing. When you act mindfully, then you will become conscious, and that that consciousness will stop you from thoughtlessly putting your fingernails in your mouth.
• Tip Eleven – Think positively! – The most important thing to remember is that you will get over this habit. Dealing with the original cause is highly important, but you will overcome it, and feel far healthier as a result.
Now we know exactly why people bite their nails and the negative aspects that come with this habit. Keeping your fingernails out of your mouth will have a significant impact on your physical health, your looks, and even your mental health. Trying to figure out what triggers you to bite your nails and then dealing with this cause of stress is the first thing that every nail-biter should do.
While you’re working through your issues, follow our top tips for stopping to bite your nails, such as replacing your nails with chewing gum, covering them with something that tastes bad, or following mindfulness techniques so that you’ll become aware of each time you put your nails in your mouth. Getting your friends and family involved can also make the whole process much easier.