Nail biting is a habit most children and teenagers are guilty of. If you’re an adult who still bites his nails, it probably started when you were younger and just didn’t know how to stop.
It can sometimes be a sign of mental or emotional stress. This is usually a person’s way of dealing with negative feelings like anxiety or nervousness.
You may even catch yourself doing it when you’re bored. Most nail biting is like second nature—you just do it without even thinking.
Why You Should Stop
The side effects of nail biting aren’t just cosmetic. Here are some reasons why you should stop biting your nails:
It makes your nails look weird
When you bite your nails, the skin that surrounds them become sore. This results in odd-looking nails since the tissues responsible for their growth have already been damaged.
When this happens, your nails may stop growing the way they should.
It makes you prone to diseases
Excessive nail biting can make you more sickly.
The spread of bacteria becomes faster since you’re always putting your fingers in your mouth. And, the skin damage caused by nail biting makes it easier for germs to enter your body.
It ruins your smile
Your teeth can chip, crack, or even break when you regularly bite your nails. In some cases, nail-biting can even lead to jaw problems.
One of the most common types of infection caused by nail biting is Paronychia. It is when your cuticles feel painful, swollen, and get filled with pus.
It can last for days and even weeks.
How You Can Stop
Nail biting can’t be changed overnight. But with time and effort, this bad habit can finally stop.
Here are 11 ways to stop biting your nails for good:
Give yourself a manicure
You’ll want to avoid biting your nails because of how pretty they look. If you have nail polish on, you’ll resist the urge of biting your nails because of fear of destroying it.
When your nails look good, you’ll focus on making them look that way as long as possible. Plus, the only way to show off your beautiful nails is to have a manicure.
Pick a color you like so you won’t feel like peeling it off. You can have intricate designs done, too, that can make you feel bad when they’re ruined.
Paint your nails with bitter nail polish
You can try this if the above tip doesn’t work. Their bitter taste will make you regret accidentally biting your nails and can make you think twice before doing it again.
Keep your nails short
Keeping your nails short can help stop you from biting them even more.
If it doesn’t take long to grow out your nails, always carry nail clippers around. This is because if there are no clippers around, you’ll go back to the habit of biting your nails.
Push your cuticles back
This is why most nail biters don’t have “moons” where their fingernails start to grow.
When your cuticles aren’t pushed back, they cover a part of your nail. It makes the nails appear shorter so you end up biting your nails.
After taking a shower, lightly push your cuticles towards the base of your fingers. This reveals more of your nails, make them more attractive, and can motivate you to stop nail biting.
Consider wearing fake nails
Fake nails great for protecting your natural nails. But if you’re very determined, get an expensive manicure with artificial nails—this will make you feel twice as bad for biting your nails.
Follow a healthy diet
Examples are dark chocolate, leafy greens, and white beans. Magnesium and calcium levels decrease with age so this can be a reason why we bite our nails.
Keep your hands busy
Look for a habit to replace nail biting. When you feel like biting your nails, resist the temptation and switch to that habit instead.
For example, try placing a coin in your pocket. When the time comes when you want to bite your nails, play with the coin to distract your mind from your nails.
It also helps to know when you usually bite your nails.
Let’s say it happens when you’re in a car ride or are in class. When you’re in a car ride, playing with your keys can help; when in class, you can try writing very elaborate notes.
Try a new hobby
Aside from preventing you from biting your nails, you may even find a new passion.
You can try doing DIY projects or doing nail art. These activities can be challenging but the end results will leave you satisfied and feel proud of yourself.
It can even be as simple as cleaning your house. The cleaner atmosphere will make you feel happier and relaxed—the less stressed you are, the less likely you’ll bite your nails.
If you don’t like gum, switch to candies or mints. These can make biting your nails tough since you’re more focused on taking in the sweet or fruity flavor of the candy.
You can carry a water bottle around, too. Aside from keeping you hydrated, you can easily have a sip when you feel like biting your nails.
Always have gloves in your pocket or in your bag. Take them out and wear them when you feel like you’re about to bite your nails.
This can motivate you more during summertime. Who wears gloves in this heat?
Start with one nail at a time
For example, tell yourself that you can’t bite your left fingernails for a week.
If you can’t do that, choose one nail that you can’t bite for a while. If you’re successful with that, assign another nail that’s “off-limits” and repeat it until you gain full control with the others.
Nail biting can be stopped if you really put in the effort. But if you’re still struggling after doing these tips, you might want to seek professional help.