How to stop biting your nails

If you bite your nails, you could be exposing yourself to a host of infections. Here’s how you can stop.

Old habits die hard, but luckily, nail biting is a habit that can be broken with a steady reserve of patience and self-determination. It is most common to bite one’s nails in situations of stress, anxiety, hunger or boredom.

Why you need to stop your nails

You already know this – biting nails is extremely unhygienic! Apart from making your hands and fingernails look straight miserable, this habit increases the risk of infections in the area underneath the nail. It also increases the risk of spreading cold-causing bacteria between the nails and mouth, nail deformation, bleeding of cuticles, etc. In severe situations, it may even lead to dental problems such as spread of infections to the gums.

Get rid of the habit

Nail biting can be tough to cure, but here are a few steps to get you on the right track:

Earnest effort: A cliché though it may be, nothing will help you stay on the path to recovery more than willpower and self-determination. Set small goals for yourself (for e.g.: no chewing on nails for a week”) and work your way through each of those. Every accomplished goal will give you more reasons to never regress.

Paint them bright: Ladies, here’s an obvious one. Donning nicely polished nails with bright, fresh colours will make you think twice before ruining all the effort.

Professional manicure: On the day you resolve to quit the habit, treat yourself to a manicure. The money you doled out, and the healthy looking nails, will be all the motivation you need to not bite into them. Try this once every month for continued inspiration.

Cover them up: If the itch to bite is just too much, cover your nails with band-aid, artificial nails, petroleum jelly, or a pair of well-fitted gloves to keep the nails out of reach.

Handy nail clipper/emery board: Sometimes it’s less complicated and the urge to bite comes from an unsightly hangnail, a chipped fingernail, or even too-long nails. Instead of making your teeth the scissors here, always keep a nail clipper or emery board to help you do the job.

Nourishing foods: Fill your diet with foods rich in magnesium and calcium to help repair your nails and promote healthy growth.

Moisturize: Develop a habit to moisturize your hands at least two-to-three times a day, and push back the cuticles twice a week, for supple skin around the nails. You’re less likely to bite healthy, nourished skin and nails.

Distraction: This practice comes a long way in keeping your teeth away from your nails. Distract the mouth by chewing on carrot sticks or chewing gum during a weak moment. For the hands, take up a hobby, like knitting, running, painting, video games, drumming, playing the guitar or even nail decoration.

While it’s hard to break a habit, this is one you need to get rid of immediately. Speak to your friends and family about it and keep them updated on your progress. There’s nothing like some external support and cheer to keep you going.

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