Bad habits are incredibly hard to break, and some are more difficult than others. Although difficult, whether you can't stop overspending or picking your nose, these habits must be broken. One of the most common issues is biting your nails. In fact, it's estimated that 20-30% of people have this bad habit.
But just because it's common doesn't mean it's harmless.
For starters, nail-biting can cause serious damage to the nails.
Chewing away at the white part of the nail can cause inflammation or infection of the skin. This may, in turn, affect the way the nail looks as it grows from this white section of the nail. Although this may not be permanent, increased and consistent nail-biting will result in more regular bumpy or rigidity nails.
Biting off pieces of the nail may leave the skin underneath exposed, according to Prevention, and prone to getting infected by bacteria found in the mouth or anything that comes in contact with that specific spot. These infections may be seen in forms of redness, swelling, or pus-filled sores on the nails.
Dental health may also be affected by nail-biting.
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nail-biting increases the chances of teeth cracking, chipping, or wearing down. This is even more prevalent for those who also have braces, as braces increase pressure on the teeth.
When enamel is worn down, teeth may have increased sensitivity which can cause tooth and mouth pain and discomfort. Nail-biting may also cause dental health problems such as unintentional grinding or clenching, sores, and damaged gum tissue.
Another major concern when it comes to nail-biting is the possibility of infection and illness.
Germs on the hands and fingers are transported into the mouth when nail-biting occurs. Although some of the microorganisms found on hands do not cause serious illness, others can. Under the nail, especially, are thousands of forms of bacteria that, when making their way to the mouth can cause an illness or infection.
If you're fighting a nasty nail-biting habit, don't fret. There are many steps you can take to work towards fighting this. To start, keep your nails trimmed. Doing so will help prevent a desire to bite your nails as they have already been cut short. Whether through getting regular manicures or simply cutting them at home, keeping your nails trimmed and short is the first step towards fighting this habit.
Also, identify your triggers. It's important to determine why exactly you are biting your nails. If it's stress, identify stressful situations and find coping mechanisms to deal with the urge to bite your nails. If it's boredom, find small activities to fill the time.
You may even want to consider applying bitter-tasting nail polish to your nails. Sold at almost any convenience store, this polish goes on clear and will taste bitter if you try to bite your nails.