How can I stop biting my nails?

Girl biting her nails.

Nail biting is a common habit that has a variety of root causes. There are several techniques you can use to stop nail biting, including the use of bitter-tasting substances, hypnosis, and regular nail care. If you can stop biting, you’ll enjoy healthier nails and cuticles and also give up a nasty habit.

Start by identifying the root cause of nail biting. Biting your nails is usually a reflection of an oral fixation: maybe you’re stressed or have recently stopped smoking. It’s important to understand why you’re doing this, because once you stop biting your nails, you’ll want to find ways to distract yourself, like chewing gum, knitting, or finding another hand activity. If you know the root cause, you can get distracted in situations where you would normally bite your nails.

Specially made bitter nail polishes can be used to prevent nail biting.

An important first step is to trim your nails. File the short nails and also trim the cuticles. If your nails are short, there will be less willingness to bite. If you are biting a nail, stop immediately and file the nail not only to shorten it, but also to file any uneven parts.

A typical way to stop biting your nails is to use a substance with a bitter taste. Many companies make products, like bitter nail polish, to help you keep your fingers out of your mouth. Other items in the home, such as habanero pepper, soap, or anything else you can find with a bitter or intense taste, can be just as effective. Apply the product to your hands frequently throughout the day, but be careful not to rub your eyes or any other delicate areas.

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Keeping busy by knitting or doing something else with your hands can help you bite your nails less.

A manicure can also help you stop biting your nails. The manicurist will cut the dead skin on the cuticle, strengthen the nail and shorten it if you request. Used nail polish often tastes bitter and will remind you to stop biting your nails if you unconsciously start again. For people who can’t afford a manicure, consider nail polish, either clear or colored.

Getting a manicure can help you stop biting your nails.

For severe cases, hypnosis can be used to break this habit. You can visit a hypnotherapist for multiple sessions or purchase tapes recorded for nail biters. It may take several sessions to see results with hypnosis, but it can result in a long-term behavioral modification that will prevent you from biting your nails ever again.

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