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COMBAT NAIL BITING

Dear Sugar
I've bitten my nails ever since I could chew, and now that I'm older, I really wish I could stop. It's time to kick this habit and let my nails finally grow, but I've tried over and over again and I always cave in and bite as soon any white appears.

I have even tried that nasty tasting nail polish that is supposed to prevent you from putting your hands in your mouth - but that doesn't work for me. I suck it up and bite my nails anyway. Please help me find a way to stop biting. Nubby Nadia

To see DEARSUGAR'S answer

Dear Nubby Nadia
Like any psychological habit, it's going to take self control and discipline. Put mind over matter. If you are at the point where you can recognize that you've got a problem, then you are old enough to control your impulse.

Nail biting is a nervous habit that starts for one reason and then continues for another. It probably started at a time in your life when you really were nervous, and that was how you expended your nervous energy. But well after that anxiety went away the habit stayed. So now, any time you get nervous - you bite.

Nail biting is also an oral fixation. Here are some ways to keep occupied when you feel yourself getting ready for a nibble:

  • Response Prevention. If you are home, put on a pair of gloves. You aren't going to eat through a pair of gloves (well, I hope not).
  • Hypnosis. Nail biters often complain that they aren't even consciously aware they are biting. You can buy a hypnosis script here to help your unconscious mind combat the struggle as well.
  • Dr Phil says that, "You don't break habits. You replace one behavior with a new behavior." If biting your nails is helping you with your nerves, then try putting something in its place. Take a deep breath, get up and go for a walk or maybe even listen to music, or check your e-mail. Basically what you are trying to do is distract yourself.
  • Get regular manicures. If you are paying to have your nails done each week, then you are putting a monetary value on your hands. It may help you to think twice before ruining your manicure and throwing your money away.
  • The good news is that once you break the cycle, it can go away forever. Nail biting is just a habit, it's not an irreversible condition. But it's going to take a commitment and will power.

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Join The Conversation
redchloe676 redchloe676 9 years
I used to bite my nails too. I used to say that I bit my nails since I had nails and teeth to chew them with. I never could figure out how to stop. I was in a bad marriage for a few years and as soon as I got myself out of that, I just stopped. I don't know why, but I haven't bitten them for 3 years now. So like Dear Sugar said, I got out of my stress and it just stopped!
yayita yayita 9 years
I tried the glass tip mani back when I was 21 and couldnt stand it. Didnt know what to do with my hands LOL
ethiopian_princess ethiopian_princess 9 years
get expensive manis with silk tips.
Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt Shiloh-Jolie-Pitt 9 years
sit in front of a mirror when you're biting your nails. Seeing how unattractive, nervous and maniac you look - I know, I did it! - should be enough to make you stop. Also, it helped me when I first starting growing my nails to get a manicure. It was a little treat for my efforts and my hands looked so pretty that I didn't want to ruin it... besides I paid for it with my allowance money so I didn't want to waste it. It worked. I haven't bitten my nails for over 10 years now. good luck, you can do it!
TruJrzyGirl TruJrzyGirl 9 years
I never bite my nails, however when I break one, I pick it till I can get home to file the rest off ... LOL !
yayita yayita 9 years
Sounds neat, I shall look for one
lilxmissxmolly lilxmissxmolly 9 years
IM the same way, Jennifer. my nails are long and always painted. biting my nails after I'd just painted them just seemed like such a waste!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Yayita - I have a gorgeous, handpainted crystal nail file that is tiny and has a little velvet pouch and rides in my purse. You should look for one of those!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I'm too vain! I've never bitten mine. But, I had a friend who would get acrylic tips to get her to stop biting hers. The tips, of course, completely destroy your nails. But, it did AFTER A LONG TIME cure her of the habit.
yayita yayita 9 years
Issy thats awesome, I still bite mine. BUt i know that im doing it, i never do it unconciously. In short, I think its nerves but I ask myself m I nervous and the nswer is NO. So maybe I'm just used to biting. Also, I hate hang nails and sharp edges or corners, these things are what make me bit my nails more. I never have a file on hand...me lazy
Issy1 Issy1 9 years
I used to always bite my nails and also tried nail polish with not effect. I knew I had a problem but found myself biting my nails often without realising I was doing it. For me I managed to stop it about two years ago by gaining a bit of control in my life. I started to be more independent by being less reliant on others to do things for me and I took my own advise. I made a conscious effort to not bite my nails (and also took control of other things in my life like my diet). It didn't take long to kick the habit after that. A couple of days went by when i didn't bite them and I had little tiny whites on my nails for the first time I could remember and that was when I knew I had beat it and could resit from then onwards. I do have some days when I'm feeling worried about something and I take it out on my long nails, but these days only happen a very few times a year.
yayita yayita 9 years
This is sooo like me!! I am a compulsive nail biter to the tenth degree. I tried many times and didn't work. So I gave up and enjoy biting my nails whenever I please, I figure why stop? I started doing it out of nervousness along with cracking my knuckles.
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