Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Sometimes, nail-biting can be a sign of emotional or mental stress. It tends to show up in people who are nervous, anxious, or feeling down. It's a way to cope with these feelings. You may also find yourself doing it when you're bored, hungry or feeling insecure.
Approximately half of all children and adolescents bite their nails. Many also do not grow out of it. If you're a grown-up who bites your nails, maybe you did it when you were younger and never stopped. Scientists are not sure if nail biting is genetic, but it is more likely that children whose parents bite their nails will bite their nails, too.
Reasons to Stop it:
Nail biting won’t typically cause permanent damage. But it definitely has its downsides:
It can make your nails grow in odd ways. They could stop growing the way they should if you damage the tissue around your nails. This creates abnormal-looking nails for you.
Nail biting can even cause jaw problems.
It can get you sick. For germs, hands are a hot spot, and nails are their natural hideout. It raises the risk of getting sick when you put your fingers in your mouth several times a day. Plus, when you bite your nails, the skin damage you can inflict provides a simple way for germs to get in.
You may not see a change overnight, but with a little time and effort, you can bust your nail-biting habit.
Try these tips:
Cut them short. If there’s not enough nail to grab with your teeth, it won’t feel as satisfying when you give biting a try.
Coat them with a bad taste. There are special nail polishes with a bitter flavor you can paint on your nails. The terrible taste will make you think twice before chewing.
Spending money and time at a nail salon will give you both good-looking nails and a reason to keep them that way.
Find your triggers. Notice how you feel or what you’re doing when you bite your nails. Once you know what kicks you into the nail-biting drive, you can try to find other ways to cope.
Keep your hands or mouth busy. Find something to fiddle with -- a stress ball, a worry stone, or even a pen to click. Chew gum so your mouth has a job. Give your nail-biting energy another place to go.
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