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NAIL BITING – A DISORDER OR JUST A BAD HABIT

Nail-biting is clinically called Onychophagia. It is a common habit seen among people of every age group. It involves biting nails sometimes including soft tissue and cuticle around the nail.

Nail Biting is a compulsive habit of biting nails. It is most commonly associated with stress and anxiety. Some mental health professionals believe it is a symptom of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder because the person knew what he or she is doing but they are unable to stop themselves. So nail-biting can be both an obsession or habit.

Why stop this habit?

Though there is no clear evidence that shows nail biting is harmful physically and mentally. But still, there are many reasons to stop.

  • Hands look really unattractive with damaged and torn fingernails.
  • Putting hands in the mouth is a really unsanitary and bad habit since it increases the risk of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. 
  • Nail-biting lead to spreading the germs such as flu.
  • Arises Dental concerns
  • Psychological damage such as feeling low esteem in front of people due to unattractive hands.

Tips to stop the habit.

  • Cut short your nails – Bigger the nails more are the chances you would bite them.
  • Paint them with bitter flavor nail polish – It would lower the chances to put your nails/finger in the mouth due to bitter taste you would think twice before putting them in the mouth.
  • Keep yourself busy – Keeping yourself busy with some work would surely help. You can also chew nonsugary chewing gums to keep your mouth busy so that you don’t feel like putting your hand in the mouth.
  • Identify trigger – You must try to identify the trigger that kicks you towards nail-biting. Try to look whether you start biting it during some anxiety/stress or you bite them due to habit. Once you identify the trigger you can modify the habit.
  • Change your focus – Once you feel you are biting nails try to focus on something else like squeezing a stress ball for a minute, indulge in cooking if you are free, start chewing sugar-free gum.
  • Nail Art / Acrylic nails – If you have tried everything but not able to break the habit. Acrylic nails would surely do the work they set into a hard form so it is really difficult to bite them.
  • Seek Help – If all the above respective ways become unsuccessful seek help with a healthcare professional or counselor in case nail-biting is affecting you physically and mentally.

On a final note, I would say Be patient once you have decided to stop this habit. You cannot stop this habit in one day. It would definitely take some time. Sometimes the habit often stops with age but sometimes you really need to have a positive outlook along with routine follow-ups.

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