Do you bite your nails? It’s a bad habit, and it’s not without its dangers either. “Light onychophagy” (as doctors call it) is not of concern in itself, but if it becomes severe and a genuinely compulsive habit, it is essential to seek professional help.
Biting nails does not cause long-term damage. However, by putting fingers in your mouth several times a day, you will be breaking the most basic of hygiene rules and putting yourself at risk.
The fingers are an open doorway to bacteria and viruses, so biting your nails increases the risk of catching a cold or another infection. Such habits can also aggravate a preexisting skin infection.
Often this bad habit will disappear on its own. But if you lack the willpower to stop, you can always try methods such as applying a bitter-tasting nail varnish. Chewing gum can also be helpful as it makes biting the nails more difficult, though it has other disadvantages, particularly for the digestive system and oral health. Another idea is to go for a manicure – paying for your nails to look good makes you feel less inclined to spoil them.
In some cases where the nail is badly bitten, the habit becomes compulsive and may be associated with other problem, so it would be best to see a doctor. Severe onychophagy is very often a sign of anxiety or malaise.