Most nail symptoms are due to systemic issues, trauma, or lifestyle factors, and this includes the habit of nail biting. Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails.
As you chew your nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your nail.
This painful condition may have to be drained surgically. Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are actually one of the most common nail problems, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).
Nail biting tends to begin in childhood, peak in adolescence, and then slowly (or abruptly), decline with age. Whether you’re an adult who can’t seem to kick the habit, or a parent of a child or teen who bites his or her nails, here are simple options that are often effective for quitting:
ν Keep a journal to identify your nail-biting triggers, such as boredom or watching TV, then avoid the triggers as much as possible
ν Wrap your fingertips with Band-Aids or electrical tape
ν Keep your nails trimmed short or manicured
ν Keep your hands busy with other activities, such as knitting
ν Consider behavioral therapy, such as habit reversal training, 5 or the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
ν Put an unpleasant tasting substance on your fingertips (vinegar, hot sauce, or commercially available bitter-tasting options).