Woman biting her fingernails

Your Health | 5 years ago

How Do I Stop Biting My Fingernails?

Chew on these simple solutions.

Do you bite your fingernails? Do you want to stop?

When you learn why a habit is unhealthy – and gnawing your nails certainly is – it can inspire you to resist more easily. And you’d be wise to resist the urge to bite your nails. Because no matter why you bite your nails – whether it’s boredom, stress or grooming – when you do it, those nail-biting moments can lead to health risks.

“Washing your hands is your best defense against ingesting disease-causing bacteria, but when it comes to the area under your fingernails, it’s practically impossible to wash away all of them,” says Youssef Siage, MD, with Carolinas HealthCare System’s Randolph Internal Medicine. “Bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, can thrive underneath your nails. And whatever is on your nails goes right into your mouth and body when chew them.”

Below, we give you five good reasons to stop biting your nails, and four easy ways to kick the habit.

5 Reasons to Stop Biting Your Fingernails

Stop biting fingernails if you want:
  1. To have a healthier mouth: Teeth can chip or break, and germs can infect or irritate your gums.
  2. To avoid pain: Hangnails, ingrown nails and open sores can be painful if they get infected.
  3. To have better health: Chewing your fingernails can increase your risk of illness.
  4. To dodge toxins: Certain chemicals in nail polish can put you at risk of poisoning.
  5. To avoid bad breath: You add bacteria to your mouth when you bite your nails, which can lead to bad breath. 

4 Ways to Stop Biting Your Fingernails

To curb the germ-spreading habit:

  1. Keep your hands busy playing with small objects (think rubber bands or stress balls)
  2. Exercise to help manage stress and anxiety
  3. Keep your mouth busy by chewing gum
  4. Keep your nails neatly trimmed