Nail biting: why is it bad for you?


Nail biting or onychophagia is a nervous tic and usually occurs in introverts, who do not express their feelings of dissatisfaction or anger. The need to release these negative feelings appears and manifests itself unconsciously through the habit of biting your nails.

Why are you biting your nails?

Nail biting is a nervous tic that can hide a rather serious mental illness, especially when it degenerates and becomes a gesture of self-harm. Usually, people who bite their nails and their cuticles or lips, snap their fingers or insistently twist their strands of hair, all of which are symptoms of a precarious nervous condition.

The main causes that lead to these harmful habits are stress, anxiety, chronic fatigue and nervous tension. Also, the gesture can be seen as a form of expression of aggression. If the habit arises from childhood, parents should discover the source of the trigger and take the necessary measures to restore the children’s feelings. Usually, the determining causes can be the change of home, the divorce of the parents, a death in the family or even the entry into a new stage of life, for example, the beginning of school.

Nail biting threatens health

Experts say that usually nail biting will not cause permanent damage, but this habit certainly has disadvantages:

  • if you have damaged the tissue around the nails, they will not grow as they normally should.
  • you can break, crack or damage your teeth when you bite your nails
  • you can get sick – your hands are a fertile ground for bacteria, and your nails are the perfect place where these microorganisms can hide, so this habit can predispose you to disease.

Beyond the aesthetic problem, biting your nails can trigger serious health problems. Under the nails are microbes and bacteria that, if swallowed, reach directly into the body. Stomach and the quality of intestinal transit can be easily affected, diarrhea being the first alarm signal. Also, the liver is in danger, this habit being the trigger of hepatitis type A, also called dirty hand disease.

On the other hand, nail biting leads to infection and deformity and contribute to gingivitis, an infectious disease of the gums. Constant nail biting can change the shape of the jaw and even change the position of the teeth.

How to stop biting your nails

You may not notice a change overnight, but with a little effort and time, you can give up this habit. Doctors recommend that you try these tricks:

  • Cut your nails as short as possible – if you don’t have nails long enough to grasp with your teeth, you won’t feel as much satisfaction when you try to brush them.
  • Cover them with a bitter substance or unpleasant taste – there are special nail polishes, with an unpleasant aroma (bitter taste) that you can apply on the nail. The unpleasant taste will make you think twice before biting your nails.
  • Pamper yourself with a manicure – spend a lot of money and spend time at a salon, to have both more beautiful nails and an extra reason to keep them in the best condition. This way, you will no longer be tempted to bite them.
  • Wear gloves – even if it sounds funny, think that if you can’t reach your nails, you can’t bite them. In the cold season, it won’t look weird wearing gloves anyway. If gloves do not tempt you, you can try some stickers made especially to cover your nails, which can have the same effect.
  • Discover the triggers – It is important to notice how you feel or what you are doing when you start biting your nails. Once you know what triggers your urge to bite your nails, you can try to find new ways to meet the challenge.
  • Try to keep your hands busy (or your mouth busy) – You can play with a ball to relieve stress, with a stone or you can press the button of a bow pen. Chew the gum so that the mouth is occupied.


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