Have you ever been so anxious or stressed that your nail-biting habit has left your nails looking uneven and jagged?
Is it possible for them to grow back to their normal state, or are you stuck with the bitten look forever? Can bitten nails grow back to normal? Keep on reading to find out the answers…
Why Do Nail Biters Bite Their Nails?
Nail biting, also known as onychophagia, is a common habit that many people develop for various reasons. It’s essential to understand the underlying causes of this behavior, so you can find effective solutions to overcome it.
One reason for nail biting is stress. When you feel stressed, your body may engage in body-focused repetitive behaviors, like nail nibbling, to cope with the pressure.
Anxiety is another significant factor, as nail biting can provide temporary relief from the tension and worry that come with it.
It’s no surprise that people with anxiety disorders like obsessive-compulsive disorder and separation anxiety are more likely to become nail biters.
Boredom can also contribute to nail biting. When your mind lacks stimulation, you might unknowingly resort to biting your nails to pass the time or keep yourself occupied.
Individuals with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more prone to nail biting, as they constantly seek ways to manage their excess energy or focus their attention.
The environment and triggers surrounding you can also impact your nail-biting habits. For instance, watching someone else bite their nails might prompt you to unconsciously mimic their behavior.
Other external triggers might include specific situations or locations that elicit feelings of stress or anxiety, causing you to bite your nails unconsciously.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that low self-esteem and depression are also linked to nail biting, and won’t let your nails grow.
When you feel down about yourself or unhappy with your life, you might bite your nails as a form of self-soothing or distraction from negative emotions.
Reasons You Should Stop Nail Biting ASAP
Biting your nails can cause pain, especially if you bite too far down or accidentally catch the skin around the nail.
This can lead to swelling, inflammation, and even bleeding. If the pain isn’t enough to convince you, consider the fact that the damage to your nails and skin can leave them open to infection.
Bacteria and fungi thrive in warm, moist environments, making your mouth a perfect breeding ground.
When you bite your nails, you’re introducing these harmful microorganisms into your nail bed, cuticles, and the surrounding skin.
This can result in bacterial and fungal infections, causing inflammation, discoloration, and sometimes even serious illness.
As well as the potential for infections on your nails and skin, nail biting can also have consequences for your overall health.
When putting your fingers in your mouth, you’re at risk of transferring viruses and bacteria from your hands to your digestive system. This can lead to intestinal infections and other illnesses.
Your teeth and gums are also negatively affected by nail biting. Constant pressure and wear on your teeth from nail biting can cause dental problems, such as tooth chipping, tooth enamel erosion, and even gum damage.
Not only is nail biting bad for your physical health, but it can also contribute to mental health issues.
For some people, nail biting may be a symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorders.
The more you bite your nails, the more you might feel you need to do it to relieve stress or anxiety, creating a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break.
Nail biting can cause trauma to your nail bed. Over time, this can lead to a weakened nail structure and excess skin growth around the nail, which can be both uncomfortable and unattractive.
Does Nail Biting Lead To Ingrown Nails?
Nail biting can potentially lead to ingrown nails, although it’s not a guaranteed outcome.
When you frequently bite your nails, you might unintentionally alter their shape, making it more likely for them to grow into the surrounding skin.
When an ingrown nail occurs, it can press on the nail bed and cause discomfort or pain.
Regular nail-biters might experience irritation or inflammation in the affected area, sometimes leading to an infection called paronychia.
Even though biting your nails isn’t a direct cause of ingrown nails, it can contribute to their development.
If you find that your nails are growing abnormally or causing you discomfort, try to avoid biting them and practice proper nail hygiene. Here are some tips to help you maintain healthy nails:
- Trim your nails regularly, keeping them at a comfortable length: Too long nails could become vulnerable to breakage, while extremely short nails might grow improperly.
- File your nails and smooth out their edges: This prevents jagged edges that could grow into the skin or become targets for nail-biting.
- Clean your nails and cuticles properly: Use a soft brush and gentle soap to remove any dirt or debris. Moisturize your cuticles with oil or lotion to prevent dryness and cracking.
- Avoid picking or biting your cuticles: This can cause damage to the nail bed, potentially leading to ingrown nails or infection.
Tips On How To Stop Biting Your Nails
It’s time to take control of your nail-biting habit. Here are some tips that will help you stop biting your nails and allow them to grow back to normal.
First, consider getting a manicure. Treating yourself to a professional nail care session can boost your motivation to maintain the appearance of your nails.
The investment in the manicure may encourage you to resist the urge to bite.
Wearing gloves can be a practical solution to breaking this habit. They can act as a physical barrier, preventing your nails from being accessible to bite.
Filing your nails regularly ensures a smooth and even shape, making them less tempting targets. Don’t forget to celebrate your progress, as acknowledging the improvements will keep you motivated.
Painting your nails can also help. Choose bold or bright colors that draw attention to your hands, making you more aware of your actions.
You could also opt for a specialized nail polish that tastes bitter, serving as a strong deterrent to putting your fingers in your mouth.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and habit-reversal training can be effective ways to change your behavior.
These therapies aim to help you identify the trigger for your nail-biting and develop coping mechanisms to replace the habit. Working with a therapist or using self-help guides can provide long-lasting results.
Keeping your hands and nails moisturized also helps in reducing the urge to bite. Applying a moisturizer regularly can prevent dry skin and cuticles, making your nails less tempting to chew on.
Maintaining the health of your nails by consuming a diet rich in keratin (found in eggs, fish, and nuts) can improve their strength and appearance.
Can Bitten Nails Grow Back To Normal?
Thankfully, the answer is yes! Your nails can indeed recover from biting, but it might take some time and care.
First, nail growth is determined by the matrix – the area under the cuticle where the new nail cells are produced.
The health of this region greatly impacts the growth of your nails. Both your fingernails and toenails grow from the matrix, but it’s essential to understand the differences in their growth rate.
In general, fingernails grow faster than toenails, at an average of 3mm per month.
One key factor in recovering from nail-biting is giving your nail bed time to heal. The nail bed is a layer of skin that connects your nail to your finger.
After biting, the nail bed can become exposed and damaged. As your nails grow out, a fresh and healthy nail bed forms underneath, eventually leading to the recovery of the entire nail.
To promote healthy nail growth and habit recovery, consider the following tips:
- Keep your hands and nails clean, washing them with soap and water regularly.
- Apply a moisturizer to your nails, cuticles, and surrounding skin.
- Try using a bitter-tasting nail polish to discourage nail-biting.
- Trim your nails regularly to avoid the temptation to bite them.
- Avoid exposing your nails to harsh chemicals, as they can weaken and damage the nail matrix.
Be patient during this healing process, as it takes time for your nails to grow out. The experience of recovery might vary for each person, but most can expect their nails to regain their normal appearance in about 6 months.
Remember that consistency in nail care plays a role in speeding up the recovery process and preventing any setbacks.
How Does Fingernail Biting Affect Your Nails?
When you bite your nails, you’re not only damaging the keratin-rich nails but also the surrounding skin and cuticles. This habit may seem harmless to you, but it can have various negative consequences on your nails and overall health.
To start with, nail biting can cause trauma to your nail bed, which is responsible for nurturing the growth of your nails.
Repeated trauma can lead to deformities in the nails, making them grow abnormally.
When you bite your nails, you disrupt the balance between the nail plate and the surrounding skin, potentially causing inflammation and infections like paronychia.
Bacterial and fungal infections are also common for nail biters. When you bite your nails, you may unwillingly introduce bacteria, fungi, or viruses under your nails or into the skin around the nail.
This can lead to conditions such as bacterial infections, which can be very painful and, if left untreated, may require medical intervention.
Biting your nails can cause damage to your cuticles. These structures protect the nail bed from bacteria and potential infections.
When you bite your nails, you may accidentally tear your cuticles, leaving your finger more susceptible to infections.
Lastly, skin picking and biting around your nails can lead to bleeding and scarring. Not to mention, it can exacerbate conditions like eczema if you already have sensitive or irritated skin.
Can A Manicurist Help Improve Your Nails After Years of Biting Your Nails?
Visiting a manicurist can certainly be beneficial for those looking to recover from years of nail-biting.
A skilled manicurist at a reputable nail salon can help you regain the health and appearance of your nails.
They will provide you with a professional manicure, using a high-quality manicure set and polishes to beautify your nails and encourage their growth.
During your visit, the manicurist will carefully clean and shape your nails. This process includes removing any debris from your nail beds and shaping the nail to promote healthy growth.
If you have any underlying issues such as psoriasis, it is best to consult with a healthcare provider before seeking a manicure.
Protection is essential during the recovery process. Your manicurist may apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent any infections and help repair your nails and fingertips.
It’s essential to follow their recommendations and be diligent with any provided aftercare instructions to ensure success.
Having a nail-biting habit can cause damage to your nails and fingertips. It may also lead to bacterial and fungal infections, pain, and discomfort.
Thankfully, it is possible for bitten nails to grow back to normal with the right care and patience.
Maintaining proper nail hygiene, being mindful of triggers, distracting yourself with activities when feeling stressed or anxious, wearing gloves when needed, using bitter-tasting nail polish as a deterrent, and visiting a manicurist for professional help can all play an essential role in helping you break this habit.