Why do we bite our nails? Have you ever ask yourself such a question? How do I stop chewing them? Is this obsessive-compulsive disorder? Can you get skin cancer from biting your nails?
There are so many rhetoric questions about nail biting but don’t worry since the article outlines some causes, effects, remedies, and treatment or means to stop this habit.
Nail biting refers to a habit where someone keeps on biting his or her fingernails for no reason. It is known for ruining the appearance of your hands, could be unhygienic and can hurt if you take it too far.
It has a medical term known as onychophagia and it is classified further by Psychiatrists as an impulse control problem alongside things like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
There are a lot of theories about this habit but they are not scientifically proven such as underfeeding or overfeeding, breastfeeding too long or problematic relationship with your mother.
Causes – why do I bite my nails
The main reasons include:
- Anxiety and boredom are known to trigger nail biting in some people. The habit definitely seems to reduce anxiety in some people, whereas boredom and loneliness can be the factor in other people who are not stressed at all.
- It is seen as a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) which is an extreme way of trying to deal with underlying anxiety.
- In younger children, it could be as a symptom of more widespread behavioral issues such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), separation anxiety disorder, and bed-wetting.
Note: Regularly biting them and cuticles can leave fingers red and sore, with the area of skin around the nails bleeding and occasionally becoming infected.
Nail biting effects
This may actually be harmful to you beyond the emotional effects. Some of the harmful effects include:
Bacteria thrive well around our fingernails such that as you bite them, those bacteria easily transfer into your mouth and the rest of your body, where they may lead to infections.
If you happen to have this habit, then you are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails. As you chew them, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your fingernails.
Warts Due to HPV Infections
Warts on your fingers caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, are common among chronic nail biters. These warts can easily spread to your mouth and lips as you bite them
This can interfere with proper dental occlusion or the manner in which upper and lower teeth come together when you close your mouth. This may result in the repositioning of your teeth into an order that can cause harm to your tongue while chewing or eating.
May result in an impaired quality of life
According to studies, the level of impairment rises with time spent on nail biting, the number of involved fingernails and those who report visible abnormalities.
Tension when trying to resist the habit, suffering due to this nail-eating behavior also a negatively influenced quality of life.
Nail biting infection
This form of infection is known as paronychia which infects the skin that surrounds a toenail or fingernail. The condition might be acute or chronic depending on the level of infection.
Acute infection causes throbbing pain, redness, warmth, and swelling of the skin around the affected one. In some instances, it may result in the formation of pus.
Chronic infection causes less dramatic symptoms than an acute paronychia though the area around the nail appears to be tender, red and mildly swollen; with missing cuticle.
Although a chronic paronychia may take several weeks to heal, the skin and nail usually will return to normal eventually.
Biting while pregnant
Hormonal changes during pregnancy are known for causing your nails grow faster, which is terrific for some women. While for other women, they become weaker and thinner.
Pregnancy is also associated with emotional stress and anxiety that may trigger biting in order to relieve you from such situation.
Nail biting while pregnant is usually a temporal condition that ends after the first trimester or after the birth of the child.
Prevention and how to stop nail biting
Here are methods on how to prevent this habit:
Wear fake ones
Fake nails not only look great, they also do a great job of preventing you from nibbling away at your nails. These remedies can be a bit awkward, but they’re extremely effective.
Adopt new habits
This is a little hard but if you happen to let go, then adopt a new habit like humming, finger tapping, gum chewing, or candy eating as a form of creating destruction in case you feel like biting them.
Get Relief through Relaxation
For some reason and for some people, this habit is soothing in the face of stress or worry. If this sounds familiar to you, it may help to use relaxation or stress reduction techniques to overcome the urge to bite.
Nail biting home remedies
Some of the home remedies that help to get rid of nail biting include:
Gloves work as a good barrier method that can help you stop biting your nails. You’ll be more motivated to quit biting if you’re writing or doing something else that is particularly tough to do while wearing gloves.
When you keep your nails relatively short, there is less left to bite. Trimming will also keep them looking neat and tidy.
Treat yourself to a professional manicure as often as you can to help you break the habit of nail-biting. A professional manicurist can apply acrylic one over your natural nails, or add décor like jewels, patterns, and textures.
Use of Garlic
This is another natural ingredient that can help you in the battle to fight this problem. Many people dislike garlic’s strong taste and aroma.
As garlic is a natural antiseptic, it will also strengthen your nails and keep infections at bay. You can use both raw garlic and garlic oil.