The medical term for nail biting is onychophagia. According to psychiatrists, this is categorized under an impulsive control disorder where you can’t control the urge to resist a temptation, urge, or impulse that may lead to harm you in some way. Psychiatrists also believe that this is an act of obsessive compulsive disorder. Anyone can bite their nails. It is believed that 45% of teenagers tend to do this.
At times this will roll over into adulthood and become a lifelong habit. There are even extreme cases where professional help is required. Nail biting usually occurs when a person is suffering from stress, anxiety, or nervousness. Such feelings trigger the person to automatically chew on the nails to attain calmness. Now, is it the only way to calm yourself, or is their any alternative solutions? Of course there are. And before we answer that, here are the horrifying facts that will explain why you should stop biting your nails.
1. Your nails are full of germs.
No matter how many times you wash your hands, germs will still live under your fingernails. Because among all other body parts, your hands, meaning your fingers which have nails, come into contact with surfaces of all types. The thing is, your fingers may stay clean, but your nails aren’t. So when you are biting your nails, you are also biting on the earthly bacteria, germs, yeast, etc. Yum!
2. You are transferring the bacteria into your mouth.
So what happens after chewing on your delicious germs and bacteria? You are carting them from your nails to your mouth. Once they are inside your mouth, they will eventually enter your digestive system. In 2007, a group of Turkish scientists experimented on 59 people, combined of nail biters and non-nail biters, to see whether they transport bacteria to the mouth. After swabbing each person’s saliva, the results were quite alarming. 76% actually transported E. coli, and similar germs, compared to 26.5% of non biters. E.coli is responsible for diarrhea and vomiting.
3. In extreme case, you can end up with oral STIs.
It is not only commuting E.coli and other bacteria, in extreme cases, you may end up with oral STIs. If you are a nail biter, and one fine day you notice herpes, or blisters on your lips, don’t fret. They are the results of your nail bacteria that you have successfully transferred to your mouth.
4. From bacteria in your mouth to dental damage.
When you are constantly gnawing down your nails, your teeth are clicking together. This results in tooth fracture, tooth chips, and in rare cases, tooth loss.
5. For biters who wear braces, brace yourself!
Those of you who wear braces, you are risking yourself into tooth resorption, meaning your body cells are reabsorbing its own cells, and tissues. There is also a possibility that your braces might break down which would force you to undergo expensive and potentially painful dental treatment.
6. You’ll end up having stinky breath.
Stinky breath occurs due to bacteria in your mouth and saliva. When you are continuously biting your nails and transferring different bacteria, they are prone to permanently stay inside your mouth. This leads to stinky breath, which, no matter how many times you wash your mouth with fresheners, the foul breath will never go away.
7. You may have pus in your fingernails.
What happens when you bite your nails? You leave the nail bed exposed. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can enter the open pores and build pus around the nails, causing nail abnormality. This pus is a horrible business. It can be cured through pills, or has to be drained out through surgery.
8. Polish your nails, but don’t eat them!
Nails look beautiful with nail polishes. But if you are prone to eat them, then stop using them. Because polishes contain harmful chemicals, and some varnishes contain formaldehyde, the chemical that is used to embalm dead bodies. If this information isn’t enough scary to put you off, then I don’t know what is.
9. In the end, your nails will never grow back to normal.
Nails are formed on nail beds, and never-ending biting will eventually ruin your nail bed. Your once long nails will gradually shorten, and at one point, will no longer grow any further. The nail’s surface will tear off as well, looking awful, and embarrassing for you to publicly show off.
So, how can you ever stop?Now, you know what harm you are doing to yourself through this horrendous activity. Previously, I have mentioned that there are solutions to stop biting nails. Well, first of all, try to stay relaxed and avoid too much stress and frustration. If you can’t, or not allowed to, then indulge yourself to physical exercise/activities that releases stress. You can go for manicures. That will make you feel guilty of spoiling your beautifully trimmed, polished nails. Put some nail polish and imagine the harm you are doing by biting into the varnishes.
And if you really want to chew on something then try sugar-free chewing gum. They might help you! Just stay away from biting your beautiful nails because when you do that it shows how anxious you stay all day. In public places with people around, it might not be a pretty sight.