The habit of biting nails or in medical language is called onychophagia can appear in childhood and develop into adulthood. The cause is not known for certain, but this habit is often done when someone is thinking, waiting, embarrassed, bored, frustrated, anxious, and even stressed.
In addition, nail biting is also sometimes associated with several mental illnesses, such as ADHD, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, ODD, or Tourette’s syndrome.
The Risk of Frequent Nail Biting
This nail-biting habit is often accompanied by the habit of pulling the cuticle and biting the tissues around the nail. If left unchecked, this habit can increase the risk of the following conditions:
  • Broken nails
  • Pain and redness of the skin around the nails
  • Fungal infections, bacterial infections, even viral infections, including herpes (herpetic whitlow) on the nails and surrounding skin
  • Teeth are cracked, uneven, or even broken if this nail-biting habit is carried out continuously
  • Infections in the digestive tract due to the entry of bacteria or germs from the nails
Nail biting habits can also reduce self-confidence because they get bad views from the environment due to strange and abnormal nails.
This condition is also at risk of making a person get bullied behavior that can make him withdraw from social life and damage relationships with other people.
How to Overcome the Habit of Biting Nails
Frequent nail biting can be bad for health, even social life. So, if you have this habit, let’s overcome it in the following way:
1. Cut nails short
Make a regular schedule for cutting nails. Trim your nails short enough to bite. In addition, trim the skin tissues around the nails. Keeping your nails neat and groomed will keep you from being tempted to bite them.
2. Do nail care
Try regular manicures and pedicures at the salon to make your nails more well-groomed. Use nail polish so that it tastes bitter when bitten. In addition, also make nail art with cute motifs. With beautiful nails, you will think twice if you want to bite them.
3. Cover the nails
In some people, wearing gloves or sticking duct tape and stickers on their nails can remind them not to bite them. However, this method is considered not practical enough, so it can be done when you are not active outside the home.
4. Identify the cause
You need to know what situations often make you bite your nails. By figuring out what caused you to do it, you can figure out how to avoid the situation and develop a plan to quit this habit.
5. Change habits for the better
Keep your mouth busy, like chewing gum, so you can forget the urge to bite your nails. You can also look for something your hands can play with, like a stress ball or just a ball of pens twirling around.
Also, if you’re feeling anxious and stressed, do creative things that can distract you from biting your nails, such as cooking, knitting, coloring, painting, or doodling.
Stopping the habit of biting your nails can’t be done instantly. It takes time and determination to really get rid of this habit. So, don’t be discouraged, okay? All of this is for your own good.
Find ways to better manage stress and anxiety. If frequent nail biting is caused by a mental disorder, your doctor may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to help break this habit.
If this habit has caused the nail to become ingrown, change color, curl, bleed, swell, to cause unbearable pain, you should immediately consult a doctor to get the right treatment.