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Imagine you are sitting in an exam hall. The clock is ticking faster. Your heartbeat synchronizes with the clock’s tic-toc. There is a question you do not understand. You are moving your leg frantically. You are biting your nails. You know nail biting is bad for your health. But you do it anyway. We all do it. I know it is important to stop nail biting habit, but do I know why? Do you? I suppose it is a great weakness of Pakistanis: We do not wonder why. Even if we do, how many of us actually pursue that thought?
Well, that’s okay because this article will answer that for you! Bonus point, we will also discuss how you can stop this annoying habit.
Fun Fact: Nail biting is called onychopagy or onychophagia.
Reasons for Nail Biting
To stop nail biting habit, it is first important to understand why someone does it. As many of you must have heart, nail biting is associated very closely with stress and anxiety. Sometimes, nervousness. According to PsychologyToday, nail biting helps us relieve some of that stress.
Other factors that might trigger nail biting include distressful feelings, satisfaction after you bite the nails, shame, embarrassment or loneliness.
Why you should stop nail biting habit?
Your nails have many microorganisms under them. There are other substances that can get stuck in them as well. When you bite your nails, not only you take them inside your mouth, but you also increase the chances of being infected. Other bacteria and fungi can enter your skin if it’s broken off due to biting. Similarly, if you bite your nails that contains a wart, the wart might spread to other parts of the body.
Paronychia is another one of the risks of nail biting. It is an infection in which there are swelling and redness around your nails.
Biting onto something hard like a nail, in this case, is not good for teeth. A total no-no. Biting nails can result in chipping of your teeth. The bacteria from your nails can also cause infection in the gums.
Hangnails and ingrown nails can also occur. Hangnail is a piece of skin left at the root of fingernails. These are open sores and cause further infections.
Now that you know it is a habit you must stop, why don’t you try? Nail biting is especially a very common habit in children. Children are more vulnerable to infections. So you must be careful. Here are some tips for you!
5 ways to stop nail biting habit in children (and you)
There are many easy ways you can do this.
Keep your nails short.
Simple, if you keep your nails short, you cannot really bite them. It is very difficult to bite off nails if they are short and neatly trimmed. Here’s a secret tip: Go for a manicure. Give a nice treatment to your nails. When you like how your nails look, it might distract you from biting them.
Put bad-smelling and bite-averting nail polish.
You can use a nail polish that is bad-smelling and tastes bad too. You will be less tempted to bite on nails that are just… Disgusting. No kidding. If you do not like nail polish, there are general transparent gels and nail polishes available locally you can use instead. They are more like shiners and polishes than nail polish.
Set up a reward system. This works the best for kids and you, of course, because who doesn’t like rewards? It can be an outing, maybe a nice dessert, favourite food and snack, time at the spa. It can be anything you really want. Share it with your friends if this works for you!
If you cannot control your urge to bite your nails, you can go for alternatives. A very common alternative is chewing gum! Keep a pack of chewing gum with you, but do not tell your friends about it. We all know what happens when someone finds out you have chewing gum. (Spoiler: Everyone gets a chewing gun except you.)
Facing it straight.
Take note of when you start biting your nails. Then try to think and figure out what’s triggering you to do that. Often when we are thinking out loud in our minds, we can reach the conclusion ourselves. However, you can also talk to someone about it. Maybe a counselor, a teacher, parent, a psychologist. It will help you get better control over your nail biting habit as well as address the underlying issue.
With these tips, hopefully, you can make some progress with stopping nail biting and getting rid of this unhealthy habit. Try to put in just a bit of effort and you will start to see results.