Oct 7, 2014: Nail biting is a relatively common habit that affects people of all ages. There are many theories as to why people bite their nails, but most agree that it often stems from stress or may be an activity that’s picked up as a child. A person who has this problem usually bites or chews on his or her fingernails whenever they are bored, stressed, anxious, or in a very tense environment. According to statistics, nail biting is fairly common in children and adolescents.
Estimates suggest that 30% of children, 45% of teenagers, 25% of young adults, and 5% of older adults bite their nails, one with the aesthetic consequences being the most obvious.
Nail Biting Symptoms
Aside from having very short fingernails, other signs that may suggest that one is into nail biting include:
1. Oral herpes
2. Paronychia (nail infection that affects soft tissues surrounding the nails)
3. Herpetic whitlos (lesions on fingers or thumb due to herpes simplex virus)
4. Apical root resorption
5. Damaged dentition
7. Fractures or cracks to incisors
8. Warts around the nail bed
9. Nail fungus
Side-effects Of Nail Biting
Aside from embarrassment that you get from nail biting and having not-so pretty nails and fingers, there are a lot more negative, and potentially dangerous, side effects to biting your nails incessantly.
1. Mouth Infections
People who bite their nails usually do not wash their hands before biting. Thus, there is a high probability of getting bacteria and other harmful microbes inside the mount. Acute or chronic infection to the mouth, lips or gums is very likely to happen. Did you know that there are about 2,000 types of skin infections that were discovered in nail salons? Just imagine how prone you are to bacteria and diseases because of this habit disorder.
2. Orthodontic Problems
Nails are hard and quite difficult to chew. If you get into the habit of biting your nails, it is not impossible for you to damage your teeth, particularly your incisors. This habit may even affect your bite and the appearance of your teeth. Aside from having not-so-pretty hands, you could also have cracked and broken front teeth. This is not a sight to behold, especially in front of romantic mates.
3. Inability To Make Use Of Hands
Let’s face it if your hand is always on your mouth, it would be difficult for you to perform tasks properly. In extreme cases, nail biting can really prevent a person from performing even mundane and ordinary tasks given to them.
4. Nail Infections
Nail biting can cause your nails and nail beds to weaken. Bacteria and fungi could enter these small cracks and lesions on your nails made by your persistent biting. Although some types of nail infections are easy to manage, others like nail fungus can be very hard to get rid of.
5. Warts Due To HPV Infections
Warts on your fingers caused by human papillomavirus, or HPV, are common among chronic nail biters. (Here I’m referring to the types of HPV that cause warts on your hands, as opposed to those that lead to genital warts and, rarely, cervical cancer.) These warts can easily spread to your mouth and lips as you bite your nails.
6. Impaired Quality Of Life
A study published this year found that people who chronically bite their nails report significantly higher quality of life impairment than those who do not. The level of impairment rises with time spent on nail biting, the number of involved fingernails and those who report visible nail abnormalities. Tension when trying to resist nail biting, suffering due to nail biting or nail-eating behavior also negatively influenced quality of life.
Simple Tips To Stop Biting Your Nails
Nail biting tends to begin in childhood, peak in adolescence, and then slowly (or abruptly), decline with age. Whether you’re an adult who can’t seem to kick the habit, or a parent of a child or teen who bites his or her nails, here are simple options that are often effective for quitting:
1. Keep a journal to identify your nail-biting triggers, such as boredom or watching TV, then avoid the triggers as much as possible Wrap your fingertips with Band-Aids or electrical tape.
2. Consider behavioral therapy, such as habit reversal training. Put an unpleasant tasting substance on your fingertips (vinegar, hot sauce, or commercially available bitter-tasting options).
3. Avoiding factors that trigger nail biting, such as overstimulation.
4. Occupying your hands or mouth with alternate activities, such as knitting, playing a musical instrument or chewing gum. Keep your nails trimmed short or manicure.
5. In some cases, treatment with behavior therapy might be needed.