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How to Stop Biting Your Nails

Once Bitten, Twice Shy: Five Ways to Stop Nibbling Your Nails

Every nail biter knows that it's a bad habit: you get bacteria from the environment into your mouth, age your hands, wear down your teeth, and generally end up feeling pretty bad about yourself and your willpower (or apparent lack thereof). But biting your nails isn't about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps for a lot of people. Instead, it's an automatic reaction that has to be overcome by other means, because will alone doesn't work when you don't notice you're doing something or have no other means of release. To help those of us for whom nail nibbling is all too natural, I've put together five smart tips that promise quick results — just keep reading.

 

  1. Stop punishing yourself. Since many nail-biters engage in the habit out of nervousness, anxiety, or during bouts of ruminative thinking, if you get down on yourself whenever you bite, you may only be making things worse. Also recognize that your nail-biting may be a signal that you need to take a break and get away from environmental stressors. So get up, go to the bathroom, grab something from the fridge, do whatever—but change your position and situation for a minute. And remember that you'll be fine.
  2. A lot of people bite when they're bored, which means that if you're this kind of nibbler, you need to develop a new, healthier way of distracting yourself. I have a friend who wears rubber bands around one of his wrists and plays with them whenever he gets the urge to bite, which is a pretty simple solution. Try playing more cell phone games or, if you can move around, go for a walk around the block.
  3. Get Solar nails or one of the other thick, hard acrylics. If you're a pathological biter, these things are so hard when they're put on correctly that they'll hurt you before you can crack them. They also make your mouth taste like gross chemicals, and if you're lucky you'll condition yourself to an aversion.
  4. Get a gorgeous manicure with bright, perfect polish. If your nails look nice, you'll be less likely to bite because you'll be more conscious of them. This is a better solution if you've been able to grow them out a little bit and want to keep your hard-earned white tips.
  5. Chew gum, suck on a lollipop, or keep a crispy, healthy snack like celery or carrots around. If you have something else to chew, you're probably not going to put your fingers in your mouth, and after several weeks you'll have begun to undo a lifetime of conditioning.

 

Image Source: Getty
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Join The Conversation
any any 6 years
thanx :P i guess is a reaction when ppl are nervous,
any any 6 years
thanx :P i guess is a reaction when ppl are nervous,
kscincotta kscincotta 6 years
When I stopped biting my nails, one of the critical things for me was to take care of tears or hangnails ASAP. Any ragged edge would be a trigger to start chewing and picking, so I made a point to cut any hangnails before I could start biting at them. Just keeping my nails more intact that way was a huge motivator for me.
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 6 years
...er, nibble even!
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 6 years
...er, nibble even!
Glittersniffer Glittersniffer 6 years
Heh, I broke the habit when I got braces! Can't bite short nails when you're a braceface. I can't bite my nails now either, because I've got porcelain veneers, so the edges aren't sharp enough to get a nail bibble.
polkadots567 polkadots567 6 years
i do the nail polish thing, except i just do it myself instead of spending 15 bucks to get them done.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 6 years
I was a nail biter when I was younger and my mom would put this gross tasting clear nail stuff on my fingers. I hated it for awhile but got past the taste. I don't bite my nails anymore, I think it's something that I just had to grow out of.
mallorycurtis mallorycurtis 6 years
i was a biter for many many years, and i just sort of...stopped. i don't know how i did it or even why, but i rarely do it at all anymore unless i'm extremely nervous. i have actually been cutting my nails because i like them short. when i was younger my mom put that bad-tasting polish on my nails and that worked for a little while until i peeled it all off.
2muchtv 2muchtv 6 years
Some of this advice sounds good for nail peelers. Been trying to break my sister of that habit for years. Well, at least she doesn't have to purchase nail clippers.
brittanyk brittanyk 6 years
I bite my nails too. I'll be good for about a month or two, then I just fall off the wagon. I recently bit them so short that they're sore now. I doubt I'll ever be able to quit completely. Sigh.
a-million-suns a-million-suns 6 years
I've tried some of these things, and a lot of them work--for a while. I've always gone back to doing it again, and the problem often is that I don't even realize I'm doing it and I sink back into the habit again.
missyd missyd 6 years
Someone should send this article to Lindsay Lohan
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 6 years
i have been biting my nails my entire life (I am 19) but at the start of 2009 i decided to stop biting my nails. I kept my nails painted all week except for Sundays (because they need a chance to breath and that is a day that I am usually relaxed)This worked for me because I knew that I was spending the money and the time to keep my nails nice. Also once my nails started to grow and they became strong people would comment on how nice my nails are and that also encourages me to not bite them. I haven't bitten my nails in 8 months!!!
Gdeeaz Gdeeaz 6 years
i have been biting my nails my entire life (I am 19) but at the start of 2009 i decided to stop biting my nails. I kept my nails painted all week except for Sundays (because they need a chance to breath and that is a day that I am usually relaxed) This worked for me because I knew that I was spending the money and the time to keep my nails nice. Also once my nails started to grow and they became strong people would comment on how nice my nails are and that also encourages me to not bite them. I haven't bitten my nails in 8 months!!!
crystalm07 crystalm07 6 years
I have forever been trying to break this habit forever. Really doubt any of these suggestions would work for long though, unfortunately.
Lori-Gragg Lori-Gragg 6 years
I am a constant nail bitter,sometimes I don't even realize that I'm doing it until I bite it too short ouch!,but if my nails are polished and look good I don't do it,until the polish chips,then it's right back to biting.
sham28 sham28 6 years
Manicures don't work. I just pick at them gently until they chip and then go to town and bite everything off. Acrylics work for me but they cost a damn fortune. I'm going to start a new set soon I think, I haven't had them over the summer. The bad tasting polish works for a little while.
sham28 sham28 6 years
Manicures don't work. I just pick at them gently until they chip and then go to town and bite everything off.Acrylics work for me but they cost a damn fortune. I'm going to start a new set soon I think, I haven't had them over the summer.The bad tasting polish works for a little while.
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