The Science of 'Nasty': Nose-picking and Nail-biting

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It's gross, it's heinous, and it's morally reprehensible!

But enough about Kim Kardashian's divorce. Let's talk about something much more upstanding: nail-biting and nose-picking -- or, for science's sake -- onchyophagia and rhinotillexomania.

First off, nail-biting is a habit as old as the human race. After all, clippers were undoubtedly in short supply among our caveman ancestors, so how do you think they trimmed their nails? Thousands of years later, nail-biting is still alive and kicking, with as many as 45% of teenagers and an untold amount of adults succumbing to this quirky tendency. The habit has been indicted with causing infection, melanonychia (browning of the nails), and embarrassment. With it's obvious detractors, abstainers may often wonder why nail-biters persist with their bad habit. Specialists insist that anxiety and boredom are often to blame.

Moving on, nose-picking is a habit that afflicts a majority of adolescents and as many as 90% of adults. "Gotcha" journalists are quick to expose celebrities and influential figures who have been caught with their fingers in the nasal vicinity. Whoever the nose-picker, be it Ralph Wiggum or Jerry Jones, the act is a tad unbecoming. Despite the taboo, Austrian lung specialist, Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, has even insisted that nose-picking -- and eating whatever you find -- might, in fact, be healthy.

Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do.

In terms of the immune system the nose is a filter in which a great deal

of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the

intestines it works just like a medicine.

212px-Ralph_Wiggum.pngRalph Wiggum from The Simpsons

But let's be honest, any possible health benefits from nose-picking are undoubtedly outweighed by the potential embarrassment of being caught 'booger-handed.' And in terms of nail-biting, there seems to be no benefit whatsoever. So, if afflicted with either of these habits, how can you put an end to them?

Aversion therapy is a very common answer. It's both inexpensive and easy to apply. The basic idea is simple: condition yourself to associate your nasty habit with some kind of discomfort. For nail-biting, foul-tasting nail polish is a typical remedy. Where nose-picking is concerned, you could try a more hilarious method of aversion therapy.

All you have to do is obtain a thick rubber band and affix it to your wrist. As soon as you find yourself tempted to pick your nose give your wrist a resounding slap with the band. Apart from being a potential fix to your nose-picking problem, the 'rubber band fix' could serve as a terrific talking point!

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