How To Stop Biting
Your fingernails are riddled with germs that get transferred directly into your mouth when you bite them. Yes, it’s as filthy as it sounds.
By Ian Cohen
Your fingernails are nearly twice as dirty as your fingers. And your keyboard has more germs festering on it than your toilet. So if you typed our URL into the address bar and then bit your nails while waiting for the site to load, man is your mouth totally gross.
Biting your nails — or onychophagia — not only transfers a sh*tload of bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms from your fingers to your mouth, it can also wear down your teeth, contribute to skin and cuticle infections, and increase your risk of getting sick. Plus, it’s super unattractive. So if you don’t have the sheer willpower to quit gnawing on your nails, we hope these techniques help you stop. And if they don’t work, please stay far, far away from us. We’re all germaphobes here.
1. APPLY PRODUCTS
Control It! ($35) is an odorless, colorless all-natural cream that you apply to your nails. Its bitter taste will give you an unpleasant reminder that you’re a very bad boy each time you go in for a chew.
2. KEEP YOUR NAILS GROOMED
We don’t expect you to carry a nail file around saw away during happy hour with coworkers, but clipping your nails regularly and smoothing any jagged edges may be enough to keep your OCD about “fixing” your nails with your teeth at bay.
3. DISTRACT YOURSELF
Idle hands can help fuel your nail-biting habit, so reduce the chance that you’ll go to town on your nails by keeping your hands busy and your mind distracted with a stress ball, Silly Putty, or handgrips. Other forms of distractions include chewing gum or eating mints.
4. MANAGE STRESS AND ANXIETY
Stress, anxiety, frustration, and fear are common nail-biting causes. So whether you’re feeling uneasy about work, your relationship, or Michael Meyers moving in next door, pinpointing what’s plaguing you can help keep your nails out of your mouth.
5. PUNISH YOURSELF
No need to go all S&M on yourself as punishment if you bite your nails, but try putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it when you get the urge. The negative physical response will gradually help lessen your desire to bite.
6. SEE A DOCTOR
Your nail biting may be part of a bigger obsessive-compulsive issue. If you think you have OCD, make a doctor’s appointment and get diagnosed. You can also opt for hypnosis — it’s the same method smokers use — or ask a doctor about cognitive-behavioral therapy or habit-reversal training. The former will help you work on relaxation methods while the latter focuses on identifying repetitive behaviors and finding healthier replacements.