If you're a nail biter (or hair twirler or finger tapper), there's a good chance your habit started during childhood. About half of all adolescents bite their nails, but more than three-fourths of those will give up the habit by age 35 [source: CRS Pediatric Advisor]. Nervous habits like these are unconscious behaviors that we repeat out of anxiety, stress or boredom. Nail biters have what doctors call onychophagia.
One problem with nail biting is that it's considered socially unacceptable; ragged, bitten nails aren't attractive, and neither is the act of biting your nails. Some people bite their nails so badly that their fingers bleed, or the nails are so stunted that there is almost no nail left. But it's not just about having pretty hands -- in addition to having a negative impact on your appearance, nail biting can also affect your health.
When you bite your nails, you transfer bacteria back and forth between your mouth and fingers (which isn't where you want germs!). If you bite your hangnails, infections can grow under the nail bed. Even worse, you can permanently damage your nails, your gums and your teeth.
So if you're reading this article and looking at your ragged nails, wondering how to stop nibbling them, let's head on over to the next page.