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In case you are a nail biter, there is a chance this has been going on for some time now. Research shows that most people start nail-biting in their teens and though a majority give up the habit by the time they reach their 30s, nervous habits like these can persist for others. Anxiety, boredom or stress are the most common triggers of this behavior and the medical term for nail biting is onychophagia.
One of the biggest problems with nail biting is not just that it looks unattractive, but that it is socially shunned too. Nail biting can lead to finger bleeds or stunted nails. But contrary to popular opinion, nail biting can do much more than harm the look of the hands. They can affect your health too. When the nails are bitten, bacteria is transferred between the mouth and the fingers. If the hangnails are bitten, infections can thrive under the nail bed. You can also damage your teeth and gums. Nail biting is a habit with bad consequences. It can damage your nails, your teeth, and your gums. Read on to know how to stop biting your nails.
Nail biting is just like any other bad habit– it is hard to break. Nail nibbling can be as dangerous as smoking, Lethal habits don’t always come with a warning label!
How to Prevent & Overcome Nail Biting
#1 Maintain Healthy Nails
This is one of the first safeguards against nail-biting. Treat yourself often to a manicure. This can prevent you from form attacking your nails. Having nail polish on may help you to fight the urge to bite your nails. As you don’t want to bite into nail polish or destroy your manicure, this can prove to a powerful deterrent against nail-biting. Once the nails are looking good, you will be motivated to keep them that way. Keeping your nails relatively short will help in preventing you from biting them. If you experience surplus growth, you need to cut your nails. Ensure that you keep clippers with you at all times. Pushing cuticles back from time to time is another important step because more of the nail is revealed. This makes the nails seem longer and creates a more attractive shape, which is a motivation to stop you from biting.
#2 Follow a Healthy Diet
A healthy diet will help you to feel better on the whole and help in repairing and growing nails well. Opt for calcium and magnesium-rich foods to ensure that your nails repair and grow optimally well. Humans may choose to bite their nails due to calcium or magnesium deficiency. The body requires the material and chooses this route to fulfill it. if you want to protect your nails and your gums, choose a healthy diet and eliminate nail biting. Eggs, whole grains, soy, liver are all helpful to the nails. Sulfurous mineral in garlic, grapes, apples, asparagus and onions also help spur consistent growth. Essential fatty acids found in tuna, salmon, shellfish as well as vegan sources such as leafy veggies, nuts and seeds are essential for human metabolic rates to remain healthy. Nails also maintain their healthy shine as a result of it.
#3 Keeping Yourself Busy
Find a habit that can replace nail biting. When you have the wish to bite nails, opt for drumming your fingers, twiddling your thumbs, clasping hands and putting hands in the pocket. Make sure this does not develop into a persistent habit either. Another good way to get out of this habit is to carry a rubber band, money or some other object in your hand and use this to distract yourself from the destructive habit of nail-biting. Whether you are sitting in class or in an office, it is important to find methods to distract yourself. Keep a quarter or another coin and play with it when you feel the urge to bite your nails. Don’t opt for eating or chewing anything as this can spur an oral fixation and cause a regression to nail-biting.
#4 Take Up A Hobby
Try taking up a hobby to distract yourself. This could range from knitting to pottery or even outdoor pursuits like gardening. Opt for clay or plaster if you are the kind to make items that are artistic. Use a medium to keep your hands occupied so that you do not fall prey to inaction and bad habits.
#5 Get a Manicure!
This is a sensible way out. Putting nail polish on the nails can cause a vibrant color to distract you. Choose a color you like so that you do not peel it off. If the nail polish is retained long enough, the nails will have a chance to grow back.
#6 Use a Nibble Inhibitor
This has many options available. Check with your local pharmacy or grocers to know more. Most of the nibble inhibitors are made of non-toxic yet foul-tasting substances that will put you off the habit of nail biting forever. Apply the solution to your nails many times a day and even use nail polish over the inhibitor to smoothen the surface of the nails and prevent yourself from biting these. Make sure the solution is with you all the time. Consistency pays off.
#7 Wear Gloves or Acrylic Nails
This can offer a protective surface which shields nails from the harmful effects of contact with the teeth. This thereby stifles the urge to bite nails. Nail biters can choose from latex and rubber gloves. Opt for acrylic nails as these can offer a coating and prevent you from chewing or biting your nails.
#8 Commit To Quitting the Habit
This remains the hardest part, though it sounds really quite easy. One needs to commit to giving up on nail-biting. So, one really has to commit to it. This needs to be worked on. So, make every effort to kick the habit. Say it out loud to your parents, partner or friends. Writing it down and sticking it over the desk so it can be seen could be one way out. You can even tweet or post your resolution to stop nail biting on Twitter. Repeat it silently to yourself. Your word is your bond, and a promise you make to your own self. You need to take it seriously if you are really thinking of quitting nail biting. There are no two ways about it – either you're in or you're out.
#9 Stop Yourself
While the only way to stop biting your nails is to make every effort to stop, it can be hard to make that effort. You have to take the initiative to stop picking at loose skin, scratching the surface or putting your fingers in your mouth.
#10 Find Your Triggers
One already knows what the triggers are. One may take a bite out of boredom or when one is not paying attention. Or you could be stressed out, or in the grips of anxiety or negative emotions. It's important to identify the mood states that lead to nail-biting. Pay deeper attention and look to see if you can find a link between events or emotional states and fight the urge to bite your nails. Once you know what gets you going, you can fight off the urge more easily.
Before curbing the nail-biting habit, it is essential to take a moment to identify what causes the nail-biting in the first place. It is essential to take a step back and identify what causes nail-biting in the first place. People bite nails for many reasons. The most obvious triggers include working on a problem, putting aside your anger or emotions about issues or chewing in an absent-minded, mindless way. The key is to figure out what the trigger is and act against it. Trying traditional or conventional like wearing gloves, trying chewing gum, or using acrylic nails can work, but you eventually need to reach the root of the problem, or kicking the habit will be next to impossible.
To understand what serves as a trigger for the bad habit, it is important to keep a journal or make mental notes of what occurs when the nails are bitten. Perhaps you are stressed at work because of meetings. Or you could be at home watching television and simply looking to pass time. Figuring out what it is in relation to certain events, emotional states or specific people and work to change reactions to stressful settings.
#11 Work On Mindfulness
Many band habits occur when individuals are zoned out. The most determined nail biters can even undo a good manicure or pull off nail polish to bite the nails. One needs to fight and fend this off. Be mindful and aware of what you are doing at a time, or how much time you are allocating to different tasks, so you don't engage in nail-biting. If you are not focused 100% on what is being done, try other ways. One of these is learning to be present, rather than zoning out. It helps to be focused and concentrate on what you are doing. With the brain paying attention to the present, biting nails accidentally could be averted. This is what makes a difference. Nail biting can stop if you make the effort.
#12 Take Help From Pals
Don't be frightened of asking for help. Enlist the assistance of those who care for you to help you get through. Research demonstrates how teaming up with friends to reach goals can raise chances of success by over 95%. Asking friends and family to call you out is important, too. If you want to stop biting your nails, or give up on this habit, get others to cheer you on. Find a friend that wants to stop biting their nails and take the pledge to help one another. Your friend can even help you to kick the habit for good because it all starts with awareness, a serious commitment to constantly practice mindfulness.
#13 Consider the Science
Educate yourself about is actually beneath the nails and you'll never want to bite these again. People who are avid nail biters often neglect to wash their hands. Pathogens lead to illnesses such as flu. So many common germs found in the body are located under the nails. This includes staph bacteria responsible for certain infections, apart from strep species. The fungus is generally found beneath the nails, leading to onychomycosis, nail fungus turning nails yellow, black or brown. There's even a chance of developing warts in the mouth or throat if you have warts on the finger and you chew your nails! So consider these factors before resorting to nail chewing.
#14 Protect Your Teeth
Wearing braces as a kid was probably enough of a headache for most of us. Even flossing and brushing teeth at least 1 time in a day is the least you can do for your teeth. But if you stop and think about it, biting the nails could wreak havoc on the teeth, not just your nails. Individuals with upper and lower chipped front teeth are surely using their teeth for something more than chewing food. While biting the nails, one subjects the teeth to all sorts of damage. Studies have found the force of biting nails can dent the teeth's root. It leads to a number of gum and tooth injuries and conditions like tooth rot and infection. Nibbling on nails can cause teeth to crack or chip. If individuals are serious about protecting teeth, it is vital to recall they are not meant to be tools.
#15 Use An App
Enlist the assistance of apps to prevent nail biting! We're actually serious about this. Use apps like Streaks which can even help individuals to tally how many days in a row nail were not bitten. The goal of the program is racking up achievement milestones so you can strive to keep the momentum going. Bad habits can end with deliberate effort and using an app is the key to adhering to the goals. Try products like wearable bracelet HabitAware which even works as a fitness tracker and uses motion sensors to detect specific behavior in wearers after a single pairing with a companion smartphone app. When the device senses that your hand is carrying out unnecessary gestures, it vibrates to make one aware of what is happening and provides an opportunity to stop.
#16 Avoid Hang Nails
Hangnails are one of the leading causes for individuals to turn to nail-biting. Before long, they have a pattern in place. The secret to averting this is to be prepared. So, carrying a clipper and tending to nails before the urge to bite gets a hold on you. Always have a handy clipper at your side and the urge to bite your nails will melt away.
#17 Try Tending To Your Nails
If the desire to bite your nails strikes you, try tending to nails instead of biting them. Take the time to paint your nails, tend to them, care for them, apply lotion and replace bad habits with good ones!
#18 Try Anti-Nail Biting Nail Polish
Consider using a foul tasting nail polish designed to kick the habit. Try brands like ORLY No Bite for Nail Biting and Thumb Sucking, Mavala Stop and SuperNail Bite No More. These bitter-tasting polish can help in reminding you not to bite nails. Getting fake nails or acrylic nails are too solid and thick to bite, so the key should be to deter nail biting to break the habit.
#19 Focus On Getting the Perfect Nails
For those who want to stop biting their nails, keeping an eye on the perfect nails can help in easing processes. Place pictures of attractive nails where your eye falls, whether it's your car or your smartphone wallpaper. This acts as a constant view of what your perfect nails could like if you leave off biting them.
#20 Reward Every Milestone
Don't stay focused on failures or inabilities to avert nail biting. It is far more important to celebrate your victories. Think like a professional when it comes to understanding what nail-biting does. Don't be obsessed with problems. Focus on success and reward it.
#21 Work on Behavioral Conditioning
Behavioral conditioning is the key to success. This is a plan that varies from one person to another. The biggest challenge is being mindful. Focusing on the present is at the core of effective behavioral conditioning. Control emotions and keep the urge to bite your nails under check. Filing the nails, tending to them and replacing negative with positive behaviors is essential.
#22 Fix Underlying Causes
Recall all your triggers and then, work on cutting down on nail-biting so that you don't end up replacing one bad habit with another. Whatever the trigger, use therapy, medication, yoga, and meditation to ward off negative emotions. Work on relaxing and being less compulsive. Stay healthy and happy as a result.
#23 Take Help When You Need It
Always involve friends and significant others in your quest to stop biting your nails. Take support and assistance from others, when required. Make a conscious choice to stop, without putting the responsibility on others. Take help when required, but don't lose control over what you want to do.
#24 Be Patient
Nails will also take a long time to become nice. Skin heals gradually so damage carried out to the nail bed can take time to repair. Don't lose patience. Remember that you are playing the long game here. Take care of your nails and your hands to feel and look good for all of your life. Keep caring for the nails and don't get discouraged. It may take a long time before hands look decent. It may feel like an eternity, but you need to be alert on this score.
#25 Take Things in Stages
It takes time to break the habit, so it is important to consider these things in stages. From thumb sucking to nail-biting. Start with one finger and then go on to the rest.
#26 Use Press On Nails
Use cheap, glue-on nails which stay on for nearly a week. These stay on for a week and then the nails have a free edge. This prevents you from biting the nails.
#27 Combine All The Methods
Choose a mixture or combination of press-on nails, filing, and crocheting, for example. The press-on serve to strengthen the nails and filing helps in maintaining them. Further, keeping your hands busy using crocheting is the key to success. Keeping your hands busy is one of the most effective ways to strengthen your nails.
#28 Buy Gifts as Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the key to success. Rewarding yourself could be the key to successfully ending the nail-biting habits. Ideas are essential to get you started. Reinforcing your positive habits can take you further. Give yourself a reward every time you cut down on nail-biting.
#29 Fidget Around
Whether you're playing with putty or finding other ways to distract yourself, it is essential to keep yourself busy. Cancel out the urge to bite nails by fidgeting around. Play with silly putty and you'll coat your fingertips with it. This will pose as yet another deterrent for the nail biters.
#30 Understand Yourself
Get to the root of why you bite nails. It is a nervous habit in its entirety. Cope with anxiety and find alternate courses of action that can keep the bad habit at bay. Chew gum, try fake nails or even try rings on your finger.
#31 Try Goal Tracking
Use the Habitica app like a role-playing game to establish excellent habits or quit bad ones. Award in-game rewards for positive actions and cancel out treats for negative ones. The game format also puts less pressure on individuals.
#32 Use Lozenges or Lollipops
Every time you catch yourself biting nails, use lozenges and lollipops. This is an effective way to replace one oral fixation with another. Lozenges and toffees or lollipops can cause your mouth to be busy. Try chewing gum if you don't want to add up the calories of a sugary lollipop.
It is important to remember that you are in charge of your life. Don't be a slave to bad habits. Rid yourself of the urge and you will lead a happier, healthier life. Opt for a new lease of life and choose to say goodbye to bad habits like nail biting. Save your dental and oral health as well as your hands from the continued onslaught. This could well pave the way for a new and healthier you that does not succumb to this self-destructive habit.