Welcome to an article that is close to my heart...How to stop biting nails for good.
I say this is personal, because I was a chronic nail biter. And I have heard all the reasons under the sun for why I should stop biting my nails.
"you're going to get sick..."
"biting your nails is disgusting"
"biting your nails causes infections"
"your nails won't grow back strong and healthy"
If you are a repeat nail biting offender (like I was), I hate to say it but each claim has some truth to it.
The turning point for me was when my pinky nail decided to grow inwards and infected my finger. The pain involved in removing and clearing the infection was enough to cross my threshold, and I made a promise to myself never to bite another nail.
So before we get into how to stop biting your nails, here are the facts for why you should stop right now!
Finger nails protect your fingers. Think of them as mini shields that are there to provide protection and prevent injury to the fingers. When you bite your nails, you are weakening this defense. Opening up the potential to infections and diseases like paronychia and the spread of the wart virus.
You might be asking how biting your nails can get you sick?! It is usually from the bacteria located under your nails that you ingest in the process of biting your nails. And if you stop to think about it for a moment, it isn't hard to see how and why it happens. Just go through what you hands have encountered today. Holding the handrails on a bus or at a train station. Touching door handles when entering and exiting rooms. Running your fingers through your hair (or even someone else's hair). I hear you saying "But I wash my hands!". Well I have some bad news for you. Unless you are using a finger nail scrubber each and every time, the hand washing will not eliminate the bacteria under those finger nails of yours.
This one is similar to how biting nails can cause sickness. The bacteria or germs that cause bad breath and halitosis is delivered from under the finger nail. Once inside your mouth, the bacteria multiplies and as a result, you end up with bad breath and bitten finger nails!
You read correctly. Nail biting isn't just bad for your nails. It can impact your teeth as well. Biting your nails can damage the enamel on your teeth. And in some extreme cases, it can also crack your teeth.
Now you know the reasons to stop, but how exactly do you break this habit of yours?
To put it simply, biting nails is a habit - a bad habit. But the good news is that, like all habits, it can be broken. It may not be easy, however with the right frame of mind, you can break the habit for good.
To get into the right frame of mind you need to work out your triggers. In other words, the moments that you are mostly likely to start biting your nails. It could be when you are bored? Nervous? Or even when you are studying - this was my trigger.
Once you have identified your common triggers, you will now be conscious of these particular moments. Which, in turn will bring more awareness and put you in the correct frame of mind to NOT bite your nails.
Assuming you haven't bitten your nails down to the flesh, sometimes a good strategy to stop biting your nails is to paint a nice lavish (and expensive) nail polish on your nails. The theory behind this is that you will fight the urge to bite your nails to preserve your beautifully manicured nail art design. You could even include some glitter or rhinestones in the design to deter your biting habit even further.
WARNING - if you still find you are giving in to the urge to bite your nails with polish on, it would be wise to take it off as ingesting too much polish could cause toxic poisoning.
I remember my parents would make me dip my finger nails in freshly minced chilli to stop my nail biting habit. And boy was my mouth on fire whenever the tips of my nails reached my lips. It seems extreme, however it works. It is simply employing the concept of negative reinforcement. By placing something that tastes horrible on your nails, you will eventually condition yourself to stop biting your nails.
On the flip side, you can try some positive reinforcement when you find yourself resisting the temptation of biting your nails. Each time you realize you have consciously stopped yourself from munching on your nails, treat yourself. It could mean taking a quick break from your study and getting up to walk around, or giving yourself a small treat like a piece of chocolate? This way you still receive the chewing sensation, without the resulting gnawed nails.
I hope this guide has helped you to begin your journey to bite-free and healthy nails. There is simply nothing better than looking down at a collection of long, freshly painted nails that complement your outfit.
If you have any tips that have worked for you to stop biting nails please comment below and share your tips so we can all have beautiful healthy long nails.
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