Nail biting is kind of a cringe-worthy habit, but it’s ultimately no big deal, right?
Not exactly. Turns out your unsightly nails aren’t the worst of your problems. Nail-biting can actually lead to a few other health issues,
The main issue? Nail-biting can remove so much of the nail that it increases your risk of developing cuticle and inflammatory infections like paronychia (a bacterial or fungal infection).
If you bite your nails so short that you draw blood (yes, that happens), you can open your skin up to other viruses like warts and even yeast infections. And if you bite your nails for a long enough time, you can eventually affect the nail matrix (a.k.a., the root of the nail), which can cause nails to look misshapen and, frankly, gnarly,
1. Buy some nail polish that makes you cringe.
Some clear polishes have a bitter (but ultimately harmless) taste, and they’ll certainly make you aware of your nail-biting if you tend to do it without realizing it. After all, if you don’t even realize you’re doing it, this will certainly make you aware
2. Go ahead and spring for a real manicure.
A pricey and pretty reminder on your nails may be enough to ditch the habit. It makes sense: If your nails are done up—and you just doled out some dough to have them done—you might be less likely to want to ruin the work.
3. Know your triggers—and how to avoid them.
If you’re a nervous nail biter, identify when and where your tension crops up
For example, maybe you notice that when you’re on a tight deadline, you feel the need to do something with your hands—and then your nails turn to stubs. Knowing that, and coming up with what I call a “competing action” when you feel anxious you change your response to stress. Other relaxation strategies like Deep Breathing can help, too. Make your deadline without biting? Reward yourself, just not with a nail-biting sesh.
4. Swap it out for a better habit.
One way to work on breaking this habit is to be consciously aware of when you’re doing it, rather than zoning out and doing it absentmindedly. Then, switch to another behavior, such as sitting on your hands, chewing gum, or sucking on lozenges or mints
Something important to keep in mind, though: It takes about three weeks to break a habit and form a new one, so it’s important not to give up too soon. ,
5. Talk to someone about it (yes, really).
Sometimes, you just can’t stop. If you have medical complications from biting—or if your habit is linked to psychological issues like Anxiety Disorders (or you think it could be)—a mental health professional can provide the support you need, So if you think your biting is obstructing day-to-day life, make an appointment. There are many professionals who specialize in conditions like OCD and anxiety who can help quell your worries—and hopefully help you cut the habit for good.