Do you wanna hear something real?
Life becomes very dark for a guy when a girl looks at his finger tips and makes a weird face. Actually, no. Life becomes dark for a guy when she jokingly mentions how his finger tips look like miniature alien heads.
If you don’t know how an alien head looks like, here is a comparison between my index finger’s tip and an alien’s head:
Alright, it doesn’t look legitimately look like an alien’s head, but it still looks awful.
And the main reason why you should care about changing this nail-biting habit is NOT only because it reveals gleams of your insecurity… it’s also NOT only because your fingers look really nasty… but it’s because of your HEALTH.
The Effects of Nail-Biting
First off, I’m not particularly conscious about my aesthetics — I know my nails (and/or fingertips) look pretty nasty, but I can take an emotional beating.
For you, or someone who tends to value her (or his) appearance to a greater extent, I can definitely see how this would affect your life. Because that’s what happens to plenty of people, right?
They tend to isolate themselves in depression-mode; keeping their fingertips out of sight by wearing gloves, fake nails, all the old tricks to hide that small, yet noticeable “defect”.
And while this nail-biting habit doesn’t seem like much… it can provoke emotional scars, forcing you to become overly-critical of yourself, especially in front of people you have a degree of admiration (or esteem) for.
These emotional issues are usually our prime concern, but there are actually far more important issues at stake here. And by issues, I mean your health.
Oh My Health!
I’m overly careful about touching dirty spots, and when I do, I find myself washing my hands quite enthusiastically because of my aversion of unknown surfaces.
I’m particularly wary of where my hands touch, so I feel like it’s alright to touch my face soon after washing them. Now, I’m typing on my keyboard, but very subtly and unconsciously, I bring up my thumb up to my mouth and have a go at it…
…without realizing my keyboard is the dirtiest thing in the world.
See. This is the kind of habit that is difficult to be aware of, and have control over.
You promise to never bite your nails ever again, but three days later you’ve forgotten all about it. You’re hit by boredom, or a sudden wave of anxiety, so you start to munch on your thumb once again.
What most people don’t know is that this surreal habit brings upon health conditions that people treat like it’s nothing… until it happens to them.
In fact, for most people nail-biting is a result of anxiety and boredom… but The American Psychiatric Association says otherwise and classifies nail-biting as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder…
But what’s even worse is the actual physical health conditions nail-biting can cause.
A study released at the Infectious Disease Society of America meeting in San Francisco, found out that NATURAL and ARTIFICIAL nails longer than 3 millimetres carry more harmful bacteria and yeast under them than shorter nails.
For this study, the finger nails of 18 health workers were tested, and those with longer nails harboured more yeast and bacteria than the 18% of workers with shorter nails. More…
Two germs found under many of the workers nails were Klebsiella, a bacteria that can cause pneumonia and urinary tract infections; and Candida Parapsilosis, a yeast that can cause wound and blood stream infections.
I’m not saying you’re safe for bitting your short nails. On the contrary, they’re still riddled with germs (although less). Plus, unlike people with long natural nails, you’re actually biting yours.
This serves to give you an indication of what goes on under your nails, especially when both you and I know, we don’t wash our hands as efficiently as we should.
Finger infection is a fairly common issue among nail-biters. But the degree of infection can vary between mild and “serious”. An infection typically starts out small but may (or not) develop into something more serious, which may require surgery.
The skin infection I’m referring to goes by the name of Paronychia.
As you chew your nails and leave the skin around it with tiny tears — bacteria, yeast and countless of germs slide in through the tiny tears, leaving you susceptible to Paronychia, causing your skin to swell, become red, and even to accumulate pus around your nail.
Here is a bad case of Paronychia:
Obviously, I don’t know how old you are. But if your nail biting habits have persisted into adulthood, and you’re reading this as a grown up person, then this is directed at you, because dental problems tend to occur later on… and the nail biting habit is something that may negatively contribute to dental problems.
Here’s a few issues nail-biting can cause:
- As I mentioned before, over time your teeth might wear out, get chipped or even broken. (Dental Enamel is the strongest tissue in your body, and biting your nails wears it away, over time)
- Gum tissue damage — With jagged nails, you’re prone to cut your gums and transfer germs from the hand to your mouth and vice versa. (Note: Believe it or not, but our mouth is filled with germs as well)
- Gingivitis — This is known as the first stage of gum disease, which is basically a bacterial-based condition that leads to gum inflammation.
Another one of the risks involving nail-biting is that you can come in contact with a wart-causing virus. (And in this specific case, I’m referring to a type of HPV that causes warts on your hands and not your genitalia).
This is a type of virus you can get anywhere, be it from your physical contact with other people or by touching inanimate objects.
Unfortunately, the nail-biting habit can also bring on warts. Which, by the way, if you happen to see one, you must get rid of it immediately.
One wart gives life to other warts, and the probability of it spreading is high. To remove it you can try at-home treatments such as the use of salycilic acid or clear nail polish, or any other method to suppress the virus.
But of course, if you warts get really uncomfortable and turn out to be overwhelming, visit a dermatologist so he/she can freeze or burn the wart off.
Quality of Life (Mostly Lack of It)
Apparently, Onychophagia is another name used to describe a chronic nail-biting behaviour. This is also a type of behaviour that affects around 20-30% of the general population.
In fact, a study published by PubMed, shows that the nail-biting habit leads to a higher quality of life impairment. Since nail-biting is typically a nervous behaviour, it is common sense that people who do it tend to feel less comfortable in high-pressure atmospheres, and thus they can’t enjoy life as much.
Now Here's How You Can Stop It
While growing up, I felt each time I bit my nails, there was a penetrating gaze haunting me for doing it. And there was one, indeed.
My mother was one to slap my hands and threaten me with piri-piri as an effort to stop me from carrying out that bad habit (which apparently is also a psychological disorder).
Unfortunately, she didn’t bother me so often, hence the habit persisted into adulthood. However, once you actually decide you wanna do it, it is only a question of time until your nails grow back to normal… and you stop biting them… forever.
In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to share with you 5 effective ways to stop biting your nails. Starting with..
Anti Nail-Biting Polish (Oh yeah!)
This is not the manliest solution ever, but it’s a solid solution. The main reason it works is because Anti nail-biting polish tastes very badly, so each time you try to bite on your nails, you are sorely reminded that you can’t do it.
It’s an awesome way to completely drop nail-biting, but you must ensure you’re actually using it a couple times a week. This is typically recommended by dentists, orthodontists and pediatricians.
It has worked for a lot of people, although I haven’t personally used this method.
Girls: Use Fake Nails
If you’re a girl, using fake nails over your short, natural nails will keep you from biting yourself. The whole appeal of using fake nails is because they make you look fabulous.
They’re often used to hide the (sometimes) boring & (for some) not-cute natural nails, and thus when you put ’em on, there’s no longer any kind of temptation urging you to bite something, because you’re looking fantastic.
Alas, as you wear them, it will also allow your natural nails to grow.
Keep Them Short
Regularly trimming your nails will actually keep you from biting them. It makes sense if you think about it. If there’s nothing to chew on, what’s the point?
Nail-biters like us get a sense of satisfaction when we bit our nails — without them, there’s really no pleasure and fun in doing it anymore.
Unless you also chew on your fingers or cuticles, which in that case, I suggest you start training your self-awareness. For me, it all started with nail-biting before moving on to my cuticles. Try using the nail-polish I mentioned earlier or try rubbing a natural ingredient like garlic against your cuticles or fingers to give it a less enticing smell, and flavor.
Keep Your Body Busy
We start biting our nails, cuticles or fingers because we’re either bored or anxious. It’s in our nature, and it’s something we’re aware of.
So if we can’t quite stop, there are other ways to keep ourselves busy. But it doesn’t mean an existing alternative is actually healthier.
For example, if you chew on a gum to avoid biting your nails, you might run the risk of developing dental cavities… well, you’ll probably wear your teeth out at a faster rate. That’s why you need to find a distraction that is also healthy.
One such example is the stress ball. Not only it can help reduce your anxiety and keep you from chewing your nails, but it can also strengthen your hand muscles.
Girls: Go Heavy On Manicure
Having a pretty talented nail artist create beautiful masterpieces out of your nails is a big encouragement to keep you from biting them.
Not only your nails get to be pretty awesome looking but it’s also a financial investment you won’t want to throw away by mindlessly biting your nails.
This said, if you aren’t able to spend a lot of money on manicure, my suggestion is to find yourself some fake nails or use the nail-biting polish, which among the solutions I’ve found, those two tend to work the best among ladies.
Now that you know a couple of tips on how to get rid of your nail-biting habit, what are you going to do?
Let me know what’s pushing you to finally stop biting your nails and letting them grow. (I still struggle occasionally to be honest). Just drop a comment below to see how’d you go about fixing your nail-biting frenzy!