How to stop biting your nails: Experts suggest finding new ways to cope with impulse

Nail biting is a chronic habit associated with anxiety or boredom, and is generally considered harmless—especially when compared to habits such as smoking or drinking.

But doctors say that unhygienic habits increase the risk of infection and damage to teeth.

Nail biting is most common in children and adolescents, but many adults also struggle with this habit.According to a study from University of Calgary, About 50% of people will do this at some point in their lives.

Chronic nail biting is called onychophagy. As long as the nail bed is not damaged, it is likely that it will not cause long-term nail damage. Mayo Clinic Say. But this habit is not without risks.

Any cracks in the skin around the nails increase the risk of infection, especially if a person’s nails are long and painful. Bacteria are also more likely to spread from fingers to mouth.

“Your nails are almost twice as dirty as your fingers. Bacteria often get stuck under the nails and can then transfer to the mouth, causing gum and throat infections,” Dr. Michael Shapiro, medical director and founder of Vanguard Dermatology, told in New York City Shape Magazine.

Biting your nails can also cause teeth grinding and clenching. These behaviors can lead to chronic headaches, broken teeth, and Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, A disease that often causes pain in the muscles that control the jaw, neck, and shoulders.

Biting nails can also cause viruses such as human papillomavirus or HPV to spread to other fingers, face and mouth.

Kicking habit

Psychologists say that nail biting is usually triggered by certain emotions. This can be boredom, anxiety or even overstimulation. For people who bite nails, it is important to determine their triggers and find healthier ways to manage them. Behavior therapy may help some people.

Dylan dryerA meteorologist who participated in the “Today” program recently announced that she is trying to stop biting her nails after a finger infection. Clinical psychologist Jenny Yip of the Los Angeles Renaissance Freedom Center is helping her to get rid of this behavior through habit reversal training.

Yip told “Today” that the goal of this type of training is to raise people’s awareness of what people are doing and provide alternative ways to deal with the urge to bite or pick nails, such as playing with pens or fingertip cubes or chewing gum. She said preventive measures, such as applying lotion or gel nails on the fingers, can also help.

Other suggestions from Mayo Clinic with Health hotline include:

• Keep your nails neatly trimmed to reduce the temptation to bite your nails
• Wrap a bandage around the nail to remind you not to bite
• Get rid of the habit of one finger instead of trying to get cold turkey

Dermatologist Explain whether people with any of the following symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor: ingrown nails, skin or nail infections, discoloration or deformity of the nails, bleeding around the nails, swelling or pain, and separation of the nails from the surrounding skin.

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