Stop Biting Your Nails

Written by Debra Wyatt (last updated July 17, 2020)

Nail biting, or onychophagia, is a habit that is caused by stress or boredom, and then with time it becomes a very hard habit to break. There are many reasons to want to stop biting your nails: The pain of having nails that get infected or bleed, your mouth getting infected, or even dental problems. The time to break the habit is now—you can do it!

The first thing to do is to make a record of when you realize that you are biting your nails. By keeping a record of your nail biting you are accomplishing two things. First, you are acknowledging the problem. Nail biters usually bite their nails without thinking about it. If you are keeping a record of when you bite you are bringing the thoughts of your action to the forefront of your mind. Second, you may find what it is that triggers you to bite your nails—are you nervous, stressed, or bored?

You also want to start drinking more water. If your body is lacking in water it can cause your nails to become weak, which means that they can split or tear easier. If this occurs, the nails often go in your mouth so that you can "fix" the nail. Next thing you know you are biting them again!

You'll also find it helpful to take just five minutes a day to groom your nails. Even if your nails are short you can make them look longer by pushing the cuticles back. When you are taking care of your nails and making them look attractive, you lessen the urge to bite them. Remember to carry an emery board with you during the day. If the nail breaks or splits you have a way of fixing the nail without biting.

During the day have some simple things around to help remind you that you are trying to break the nail-biting habit. Here are few ideas to help you remember that you are trying to break this habit.

  • Try distracting your mouth with another habit, like chewing gum or eating carrot sticks. By having something else in your mouth this will discourage you from putting those nails into your mouth.
  • Paint your nails with something bitter. There are many products out there like Bitrex, Control-It, and Thum that you can apply to your nails. (You will want to be able to have extra around so that you can reapply the product as needed.)
  • Keep your hands busy. Carry a ball around with you, just a small ball, (If you are carrying a ball in your hands than it is harder to have the nails in your mouth.) Or, take up a new hobby like drawing or knitting. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it takes your hands to do it.

In a short time you will have broken the nail-biting habit. Your nails will be longer and more attractive, and then you won't want to ruin those beautiful nails by biting them.

Author Bio

Debra Wyatt

Deb has a communications degree and applies her talents to her position as Marketing Specialist at Sharon Parq Associates. In her spare time she spends time with her children and grandchildren and devotes time to her church. ...


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