Tic for Tat: Nail Biting, Pen Chewing and Other Nervous Tics

A woman is squeezing a stress ball while sitting in front of her computer.You (or someone you know) might do these things when nervous, bored, anxious or stressed. They’re nervous habits, or tics – such as biting your nails, twirling your hair, chewing on pens or pencils, or touching your face often – and they could be bad for your health.

The following tics may not seem like they could cause much damage, but they could be harmful to your skin, scalp and teeth, according to Health magazine.

  • Gnawing on your nails: Regularly biting your nails could harm the nails and surrounding skin, and you could be at risk for infections in your throat or gums if bacteria under your nails gets into your mouth.
  • Hair twirling or twisting: You may be causing damage to your hair roots, and it might lead to permanent or temporary hair loss.
  • Chewing on writing instruments: Are you chewing on the ends of your pencils or pens more than you write with them? If so, you could injure your teeth and gums and could introduce germs, like cold and flu viruses, into your mouth.
  • Touching your face: You could harm the top layers of your skin if you touch your face too much or pick at your pimples, and it could cause a scar, according to Health magazine.

Speak with your primary care doctor if you or someone you know would like more information about nervous habits or anxiousness. For a physician referral call 1-800-BayCare (1-800-229-2273).