Nail biting often begins in childhood and can continue through adulthood.
Half of all adolescents bite their nails.
Nail biting is often something people do without being aware that they’re doing it.
It’s just a habit.
For other people, it may be a sign of stress or anxiety.
Although nail biting may appear like a cosmetic issue, chronic nail biting can cause serious problems.
It can make the skin around your nails feel sore, leaving your skin vulnerable to infection.
It can also pass harmful bacteria and viruses from your mouth to your fingers and from your
nails to your face and mouth.
In addition, repeated nail biting can damage the tissue that makes the nail grow, resulting
in abnormal-looking nails.
To stop biting your nails, follow these tips and tricks from dermatologists.
For both children and adults, keep nails trimmed short.
Having less nail provides less to bite and is less tempting.
Apply bitter-tasting paint or polish to the nails.
Available over-the-counter, this safe, but awful-tasting formula can discourage you from
biting your nails.
If you’re an adult, get regular manicures.
Spending money to keep your nails looking attractive may make you less likely to bite them.
Covering nails with tape, stickers, or wearing gloves may also prevent biting.
Replace the nail biting habit with a good one.
When you feel like biting your nails, try playing with a stress ball or silly putty instead.
This will help keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.
Identify your triggers.
These could be physical triggers, such as the presence of hangnails, or other triggers,
such as boredom, stress or anxiety.
By figuring out what causes you to bite your nails, you can figure out how to avoid these
situations and develop a plan for stopping.
Just knowing when you’re inclined to bite may help solve the problem.
Some doctors recommend taking a gradual approach to break the habit.
Try to stop biting one set of nails, such as your thumb nails, first.
When that’s successful, eliminate your pinky nails, pointer nails, or even an entire hand.
The goal is to get to the point where you no longer bite any of your nails.
Nail biting isn’t just unsightly, it can lead to infection and long-term damage.
For some people, nail biting may be a sign of a more serious psychological or emotional problem.
Therefore, if you’ve repeatedly tried to quit and the problem persists, consult a doctor.
If you bite your nails and develop a skin or nail infection, see a board-certified dermatologist
To learn more about nails or find a dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org.