A Habit that's Hard to Break
Why do people bite their nails? Many of them do it for the same reason behind many bad habits. They are bored, nervous or fidgety. Sometimes they do it because their nails are ragged and in a bad condition, so getting rid of them seems like the best option. For most people, nail biting is largely a subconscious habit, something they do without actually thinking about it.
Surveying the Damage. Fingernails can harbor a lot of germs. When a person continuously puts their nails in their mouth, those germs can spread. Along with infections, nail biting can also damage tooth enamel and lead to other dental issues. Unsurprisingly, the main reason people want to stop biting their nails had more to do with appearance than health. Extremely short nails - especially those with bleeding, reddened or broken skin around them - do not look attractive on anyone. People often find themselves putting more energy into hiding their nails than overcoming the habit.
Making changes. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
1) Stand in front of a mirror and chew your nails, looking carefully how you appear, what faces do you make? Do you see what other people are seeing?
2) Keep a daily record that notes when, where and/or with around whom you bite your nails so you can pinpoint any patterns. Once you become aware of your routines, you can begin to actively prevent them. For example: If you realize that you chew your nails only while you are on the phone with your mother-in-law, then you can keep something next to the phone to distract you when talking to her.
3) Find something else to do. Keep stress balls close to where you most often bite your nails. If you chew them while reading, then keep the balls next to your book. If you chew your nails while on the phone keep them next to the phone. You can also pick up a pencil and doodle or grab some putty and mold it into different shapes. These items will help you keep your hands occupied, thus deterring you from succumbing to the nail biting habit.
4) Aversion therapy is one of the oldest ways to stop nail biting. This therapy involves causing discomfort by
doing something such as making the nails taste terrible so biting becomes associated with an unpleasant feeling. Some people wear rubber bands on their wrists - if they start to bite their nails, they snap the band against their skin; the pain may make them stop biting. Some apply hot pepper or lemon juice to their nails, while others purchase products that are designed to make nails taste foul.
5) Hypnosis tapes and/or therapists for guidance on breaking the habit can be helpful for some clients.
6) Always carry nail clippers with you at all times, these can take care of a ragged nail or hangnail before
the temptation to chew takes over.
7) Wearing gloves while at home can help some people. You can also put adhesive bandages on the fingers you chew the most to remind you not to cave in to the urge.
8) Taking care of your nails regularly. Keep your hands and nails moisturized by applying a good lotion
several times throughout the day. File your nails on a daily basis, keeping the edges rounded so they have no tempting sharp points to bite. Other appearance-boosting suggestions: Wear pretty rings on your fingers, wear your favorite polish colours, and add on some Nail Art or make appointments to come for regular professional manicures that include a long moisturizing soak.