Do you gnaw on your nails, or know someone who does? Stress and boredom are the main underlying causes for most people when it comes to nail-biting. Biting and picking fingernails or the skin surrounding the nail is used as a way of relieving and channeling stress. So, why is nail biting so bad?
Why Nail Biting Is More Than Just A Bad Habit
Ever look over at your friend or spouse to see them sneakily forcing their hand into weird positions as they chomp on their finger? Nail biting can be a pretty gross habit – and a hard one to kick. If you suffer from this, you’ve probably tried to stop, and may have temporarily found success only to fall back into your hand’s clutches. Maybe after reading some of these side effects, you’ll find it a little easier to quit!
Nail biting can cause infection or make you prone to sickness from putting unwashed hands into your mouth. Saving a little bit of collected goop under your nail for a midday snack later? I didn’t think so! Our hands collect lots of germs and bacteria from the things we touch throughout the day. A lot of nail biters tend to stick their hands in their mouth without even realizing they are doing it. But, every time you do, you are consuming the germs that your hands have accumulated! This can make you more prone to getting a cold, sickness, or virus.
Nail biting and picking can lead to temporary or permanent damage to your nail. The nail is a functioning part of our bodies, and is prone to infection. And although an infection may only last a short time, causing minor discomfort and temporary funny-looking nail, lasting damage is entirely possible. Chronic nail biting can also cause permanent damage to the nail bed, which when exposed could lead to irreversible shortening of the nail.
So, how can a chronic nail biter stop? Finding another way to release that stress could be useful. Using a stress ball, twirling your hair, or snapping a rubber band are good alternatives. Even if you aren’t an offender yourself, try to offer encouragement to your friends or family members that do bite or pick their nails. Instead of telling them, “nail biting is bad, and you should just stop”, maybe offer an alternative for them to relieve their stress in a healthier way.