You are looking for proven ways to stop biting nails and cuticles. You’ll find some easy-to-follow tips and advice to help you quit this life-long habit. You’ll soon have healthy-looking fingernails and renewed self-confidence when you do give up this compulsive habit.
The reasons people bite off fingernails run much deeper than you might anticipate. The experts say that it can sometimes be due to nervousness, but not always. You may do it because you have nothing else to do with your hands.
Some people do it and don’t realize they are biting their nails until someone brings it to their attention. It’s more of a bad habit and how we react to stressful situations.
A nail-biter, by definition, puts unclean fingers in his or her mouth. Consequently, there’s a greater likelihood of developing a health issue. You could develop a virus, bacterial infection or fingernail fungus. Nail biting can harm the teeth, so it’s time to give up biting your nails.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Do We Bite Nails?
- 2 How To Stop Biting Nails and Cuticle Biting
- 2.1 1) Cut Nails Short and Neat
- 2.2 2) Coat Nails with Unpleasant Tastes
- 2.3 3) Wear a Pair of Gloves
- 2.4 4) Seek Professional Help
- 2.5 5) Know What Triggers Nail Biting
- 2.6 6) Keep Busy
- 2.7 7) Breathe In and Breathe Out
- 2.8 8) Yoga Training
- 2.9 9) Reject the Urge
- 2.10 10) Take a Good Look
- 2.11 11) Put a Bandage On the Nail
- 2.12 12) Hydrate and Eat Right
- 3 What are the Negative Effects of Nail Biting?
- 4 Does Nail Biting Cause Permanent Damage?
- 5 Is Nail Biting an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
- 6 Can Biting Nails Damage Your Teeth?
- 7 Biting Nails with Fungus
- 8 Hypnotherapy for Nail-biting
- 9 The Hands Tell a Story
- 10 Can Nail-biting Boost the Immune System?
Why Do We Bite Nails?
It’s a shame how some people bite off their nails. Their fingernails look awful, and it’s not a very clean habit. Some people say it’s painful… it certainly seems that way. Plenty of nail-biters try to quit but say it’s difficult. Why is it hard to stop? Experts say it could be a sign of something serious.
Most people bite their nails and cuticles because they are anxious or nervous about something. On the other hand, it could be depression that’s making them chomp without realizing it. Why people do is a question not easily answered. There are a lot of variables tied to this issue.
Are you guilty of biting nails without realizing it? It happens because they are just bored. It often starts during childhood and parents go to extremes to get their child to quit, but it doesn’t work. The nails are weak because of constant moisture and damage.
Maybe no one is aware of what goes on underneath a nail or through hand to hand contact? Diseases are spread from person to person more often by contact than any other. The nail-biter can have salmonella or coli and not know it. Those diseases hide under the nail bed and end up in the mouth.
How To Stop Biting Nails and Cuticle Biting
As with any habit, it’s going to take discipline to overcome it. To help out, here are a few ways to stop biting nails and cuticles that work:
1) Cut Nails Short and Neat
Stands to reason if there isn’t a nail to bite, it can’t be chewed, right? If this is the case, keep your fingernails cut short. It will prevent or at least cut down the urge to bite down on the fingernail. All is needed to start the process, however, is one little nick in a nail.
2) Coat Nails with Unpleasant Tastes
Buy special paints or oils which were designed to taste bad to prevent nail biting. The developers purposely put awful tasting ingredients in the formula so people will want to stop biting their nails.
3) Wear a Pair of Gloves
It may be weird, and yes, co-workers will stare at anyone walking around with gloves on, but don’t worry about it. Have fun with the gloves. Paint them and decorate them with bright colors or stickers. They should make a person feel good or happy when wearing them.
4) Seek Professional Help
Treat the fingernails to a professional manicure. The fact money was spent on the maintenance and care of the nails may be a deterrence not to bite the nails or cuticles.
5) Know What Triggers Nail Biting
Take note of what’s going on and the surroundings when the urge to bite nails strikes. Finding the trigger may end the torture of nail-biting. Is it watching scary movies? Is it more prevalent during tests? Find the answers to those questions, and it should help solve why people bite their nails.
Is it a hand-to-mouth thing like cigarettes? Get friends and family in on it as well. Get their input on ways to stop biting nails and cuticles. Maybe they have experience with a nail-biter or have personal experience.
6) Keep Busy
This could be a mild case of nail-biting in that biting doesn’t happen all of the time. If your nail-biting is due to boredom, do something else, even when fatigue is setting in. Keep the hands and mind busy with other things. Have activities in place to get over the urge – it only lasts a few moments.
Use specific tools to reduce stress like a pair of stress balls, a punching bag or using deep breathing exercises to keep calm.
7) Breathe In and Breathe Out
Deep breathing exercises help plenty of people stay calm or calm down. It helps to reduce the level of anxiety and stress. When breathing out, concentrate on the bad energy going out from the body and breathe in the good vibes. Inhale (three times) through the nose and exhale using the mouth as well.
Need more details to try it at home?
Deep Breathing Instructions:
- Sit up with the back comfortably straight.
- Pick one hand to place on the chest and lay the free hand on the stomach
- Breathe in using the nose and notice the stomach rising
- Notice how the other hand moved. How noticeable was it? Very little is a good answer.
- Breathe out pushing air out of the body and feel the stomach muscles contracting
- There should be plenty of stomach movement when exhaling but little elsewhere
- Keep breathing in and out until the lower abs fall and rise
8) Yoga Training
Yoga works miracles for thousands of people. Try it; it may be the greatest thing since the wheel if not there’s always meditation. These are proven methods to reduces stress, so don’t be afraid to try them. The critical point to remember is to start at the appropriate level to prevent injury.
9) Reject the Urge
Aversion therapy works for numerous people. What is meant by aversion treatment? It’s simple to understand. It’s enforcing a reminder to quit, almost like a jolt of reality. Placing a rubber band around a person’s wrist and snapping it when the urge arrives.
This sends an alert to the person who’s trying to quit and reminds them to do the deep breathing exercises or to workout. Whatever their point of aversion is, they should use it instead of giving in.
10) Take a Good Look
Sometimes, pictures speak louder than words. Look at what happens to the fingernails of the people who bite theirs. Check out the bacteria under the fingernails. Perhaps a visual is just what the doctor ordered to see things clearly.
11) Put a Bandage On the Nail
Starting healing the skin around the nail. Get a good antibiotic to use on the cuticles and skin around the nails. Smooth the cream on the cuticle and cover with a bandage.
12) Hydrate and Eat Right
Thought this was safe ground from a speech about eating right and drinking water? Wrong! Good skin comes from a healthy body. Get the amount recommended for each food group and take a supplement if necessary.
What are the Negative Effects of Nail Biting?
The addiction is a horrible habit if people will stop to think about it. There are many ways to approach the problem as the real cause of nail biting has not been determined yet. What the experts know is it has adverse effects. A trip to the dentist could be necessary if a tooth is chipped or broken.
Nail biters can get an infection by traumatizing their nail beds. The infection is called acute paronychia, caused by the bacteria left underneath the nail. It hides in the corners of the thumbnail and cuticles, mainly on the index fingers. It can cause the finger to get those ridges on the nail.
Not only those ridges but the finger can be painful and throb. This is especially true if the person has a subungual hematoma. It’s easy to spot as underneath the nail will be red, cracked or split. Also, the nail could develop a little white surface otherwise known as lunula.
In other words, suffering from inflammation or skin infection could result in an abnormal-looking fingernail. Ever seen a bumpy fingernail? Fortunately, the effects are often temporary. With that said, sometimes the results are permanent.
What’s shocking to many people who do and do not bite their nails is that open lesions can affect another person. Sexually transmitted infections are scary, and the thought of getting one because of the bacteria from a finger is enough to make people think about washing their hands more often.
Does Nail Biting Cause Permanent Damage?
In most cases, nail-biting won’t leave any permanent scars, but it could permanently affect the nail. A few of the scenarios include –
- The nails will grow awkwardly because of tissue damage. If the tissue surrounding the nail is damaged, the nails will appear to be abnormal.
- Surprising, a person can chip, break or crack a tooth biting nails. Given some time, it can cause a person to have problems with their jaw.
- Overall, it can make a person ill. Like the tongue, the hands carry a lot of germs, and they love hiding under the nails. This sucks for people who put their fingers or fingernails in their mouths. These people are much more likely to become ill because they shook hands with an infected person. Not only that, but the open skin makes it easy for bacteria to form there.
- Some individuals have a bad habit of pushing their cuticles back. It’s one particular hand but not both hands. The critical point to remember here is that the pushing is done aggressively. This also results in an awkward-looking nail.
- Chronic nail-biting can push the teeth out of line if a person doesn’t break a tooth.
- It causes (diastema) a space between the front, upper set of teeth. Mostly, this will happen to young adults.
Is Nail Biting an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
The professionals found out some interesting facts regarding nail-biting and obsessions or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This kind of “grooming” goes beyond a typical nail-biting habit. Most believe it’s a stress reliever of a sort and is done without thought. It’s set on autopilot.
Seriously, people find it difficult to control their behavior. Is it physical or psychological is the question or is it both? With this said, some still consider it to be pathological.
Typically, a nail-biter is a seasoned one. This happened early on in their life. The experts are studying a biter’s behavior and how it affects the nail-biter. Because of this, nail-biting receives a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) classification.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is dealing with fear and repeatedly doing an action. Certain kinds of nail-biters fit into this class. Hair pulling and nail-biting doesn’t sound harmful, and commonly, it’s not.
However, some men and women take it to the extreme, and it becomes self-harming behavior. That’s when mental health professionals say it becomes impairing, but it’s a small percentage of the nail-biting community. It causes concern when there are signs of injuries.
When it becomes a problem for a person to use their hands because of nail-biting, professional help may be required. Remember, one person is never alone. There are thousands more with this disorder.
Can Biting Nails Damage Your Teeth?
Biting nails creates a stressful situation for the teeth. The enamel breaks down, which is supposed to be a protective cover for the teeth. Without it, a person will lose his or her teeth.
- Additionally, biting down hard on the fingernail can cause a person to smack down hard on the bottom plate of teeth. Sadly, the teeth can chip right along with the breakdown of enamel.
- Braces are necessary to straighten the teeth. Biting the nails can cause a person’s teeth to be offset. Put too much stress on the teeth and getting them off is likely going to be delayed.
- When nail-biting becomes a problem, it can put more pressure on the jaw. The sufferer will experience jaw pain, neck pain, muscle pain surrounding the jaw and headaches. The possibility of lockjaw is even present.
- Is nail-biting the gateway to other issues like bruxism or TMJ? Over 30 million people bite their nails each day. The theory is that nail-biting can lead to grinding the teeth. People usually grind their teeth in their sleep or when they are under pressure and strain.
- In the same way, nail-biting leads to clenching the jaw. The results of that could well be TMJ. The condition must be severe enough if it will leave a lasting impression on the teeth. Someone could fracture their teeth or do damage to early dental work.
Biting Nails with Fungus
The medical professionals know the relationship between fungus and nail-biting. Because of this, they also advise the population of the risk of biting nails carries. When a person bites their nails, not only do they bite nails, but what’s on and under the nail and their cuticles.
In this case, the nail has fungus or harmful bacteria the biter takes this in as well. It’s dreadful when picturing it… a fingernail discolored, damaged and deformed. Not a very pretty picture, is it? Get treated before symptoms worsen.
In other words, seek help at first sign of severe damage, not when the nail starts showing signs of falling off.
Another critical point to remember is nail polishes contain an ingredient called formaldehyde. Do know this is the same stuff funeral officials use to embalm their clients with. It stands to reason people who wear nail polish will have some harmful bacteria around their fingernails.
However, the body is taking in the formaldehyde when they bite their nails while wearing polish. By the way, there’s more not-so-good news for the nail-biter. Halitosis means the breath is foul, honestly. This is not something gum chewing will solve.
The mouth carries the most germs, and by putting an infected finger in it, the risk becomes greater of getting an infection. To quit, some people will go to extreme measures like putting hot sauce on their fingers and other chemicals. However, we do not recommend that you give this a try.
Hypnotherapy for Nail-biting
So, does getting hypnotized to stop you from biting nails work? How much does one know about hypnotherapy anyway? The experts describe hypnosis as being focused and in total relaxation. Rather than not think, the point is to become acutely aware of what is going on.
Take note of where the hands are, how the hair feels against the face and even what the mouth is doing. Are the teeth clenched? What about twirling the hair? Are there any signs of stress? Often, we pick up a cigarette without even thinking of it, and it’s not different from biting the nails.
It’s not even a matter of a choice it’s automatically completing this action over and over again without thought. To help a patient stop nail-biting, a technique may require him to hold his hand a certain way while biting his nails.
The ultimate goal is to stop, and it’s all a matter of breaking bad habits. Part of self-hypnosis is learning how to relax and do it quickly and with ease. Most people start a bad habit under stressful conditions. They usually satisfy an urgent or immediate desire.
It doesn’t require thinking outside of self-satisfaction. That’s why eating ice cream or chocolate is a favorite among numerous people. The negative side of this is that people gain weight due to eating fatty foods. This strategy doesn’t work very well. Instead, say affirmations quietly to feel better.
Remember, it is not a great habit. It does more damage than good. The purpose of hypnosis is to feel better.
The Hands Tell a Story
One of the first things a person looks at on the body are the hands and nails. Well-groomed hands tell a lot about the person and his or her personality. What’s the story behind the hands on the mouse and keyboard or cell phone?
Nails which have been bitten-down can be embarrassing. The cuticles look bad, too. The way people present themselves, especially to potential employers, should reflect top, well-groomed candidates. It should speak of someone with high self-esteem.
Anyone can put on a nice Italian suit, but the real test is in how well the hands are taken care of. Nail-biting is a dead giveaway of someone who has a few problems, possibly. Hiding the hands only works momentarily, so it isn’t a long-term solution.
If the position calls for someone to use their hands, all eyes will focus on those hands. The nails should look attractive.
Can Nail-biting Boost the Immune System?
The debate on nail-biting is that it could have benefits. The fact the hands and nails are carrying so many germs, it may work out in a person’s best interest. Yes, there is some similarity with the “influenza shot.” Get it first so the virus wouldn’t turn into anything significant.
The theory on hygiene is that we work diligently to have a clean home that we have made it impossible to live there. People need germs to build their immune systems stronger.
But by always biting the nails, and bringing fresh germs into the mouth, the body is working and sorting the good bacteria from the bad. The immune system is doing what it does best, and that’s protecting the body. It gains strength and passes it to other people and companies.
If someone bites their nails, reconcile if it’s merely an occasional habit or one which has the potential to hurt themselves. Nail-biting may seem like a harmless habit, but the truth is, it could be more profound than anyone knows.