Fingernail biting is an unhealthy habit that should not be cultivated by any child. Nails harbours dangerous germs that can lead to sickness.
When you use your mouth that is meant for speaking, eating and drinking for other activity other than these main functions, it is sometimes described as a parafunctional activity.
Fingernail biting can be a temporary, relatively non-destructive behaviour but it can also develop into a severe condition.
The truth is that many children including adults unconsciously bit their nails. Though, lots of people have argued that it gives them a sense of calm when they are in deep thought, but the good thing about a habit is that you can jettison if you are determined.
My baby girl was fond of biting her nails and it was always giving me a concern because as a child, she could easily contact germs through the habit. I realized I could count how many times I helped her cut her nails. Each time I tried to check if the nails needed to be cut, I always met it well trimmed because I noticed her fingers were regularly in her mouth anytime she was seating alone.
You know as an Africa woman, I started spanking, rebuking and also used body language each time I sight her bitting her nails.
It didn’t stopped because her nails were always met well-trimmed not with nail cutter, but with her teeth. As she grew in age, she became conscious of her friends with long and beautiful nails. One day, she told me she wanted to grow her nails, complained that her nails were too short and not looking good. I just smiled and told her it was a good idea. Today, she has stopped biting her nails. She truly outgrown it without medical consultation. This does not nullify the fact that some people’s nail biting habit need a medical consultation.
Why you need to stop nail biting
- Most infections are acquired through dirty hands. So when you put your fingers in your mouth, you also put all the germs which you have picked from things you have touched, into your mouth. This is even more dangerous especially with the spread of Covid-19.
- It may damage the skin around the nail and thereby increase the risk of infection
- It may harm your teeth.
- It may also create bad impression about you since it’s a habit that can be exhibited anywhere.
How to you stop nail biting
- Keeping your nails neatly trimmed or manicured
- Occupy your mouth with alternate activities like sweet or chewing gum (this also has side effect if moderation is not applied)
- Avoiding factors that trigger nail-biting, such as overstimulation
- Stop it the moment you realise you are doing it even if you have bitten most of them
- Keep a nail clipper/cutter with you all the time. Once you realise your fingers are in your mouth, bring it out and use it to trim your fingernails.
- You may also tell your friends and family to help you by reminding you each time they see you biting your nails
- Mayo Clinic, a US based clinic in its online platform also recommends that a bitter tasting lacquer to nails can be applied to discourage biting
If you are concerned about nail-biting, consult your doctor or a mental health provider.