Do you have a bad habit of biting your nails whenever you’re anxious, stressed, or bored? Or maybe you don’t notice you’ve bitten them until you go to get a manicure and they’re gnawed too short. Well, you’re not alone! Discover how you can conquer the habit to stop biting your nails once and for all.
For some people, biting their nails feels so natural that it’s hard to pinpoint when and why the habit began.
About half of all kids and teens bite their nails. Many don’t grow out of it, either. If you’re an adult who bites your nails, you may have done it when you were younger and just never stopped.
It’s estimated that between 20 and 30 percent of the population struggles to quit nipping at their fingernails on a daily basis.
Before trying to stop your nail biting habit, it’s important to know the causes behind the behavior — onychophagia, as it’s called in the medical world.
So why exactly do we engage in these type of behaviors? Studies show that there may be a genetic cause, but there are also a number of environmental triggers that manifest the onset of nail-biting behavior — including stress, anxiety, boredom, and other forms of emotional distress.
Luckily, there are a few ways to overcome the urge once and for all. If you’re wondering how to stop nail biting for good and finally get strong, healthy nails that haven’t been incessantly gnawed on, here are some of the best expert approved tips to finally kick the bad habit to the curb:
1. Find your Triggers
First, ask yourself what the root of the problem is. Notice how you feel or what you’re doing when you bite your nails.
Once you know what kicks you into nail biting drive, you can try to find other ways to cope. Next, decide what can be done to physically stop the behavior.
For example, if you find that you most often start biting your nails when you’re doing work in your bedroom alone, for instance, you can try taking your work to the dining room and doing it around other people, which can help you become more aware and conscious of the behavior.
2. Find A Positive Replacement Behavior
When you feel like biting your nails, try playing with a stress ball or fidget spinner instead. This will help keep your hands busy and away from your mouth.
For example, if you bite your nails when you’re stressed, then try opting for a beaded necklace or another physical object you can touch with your fingers to release pent-up energy with.
When consistently opted for, these methods will become positive substitutes for nail-biting when you’re triggered.
3. Coat your Nails with a Bad Taste
“One of the most common ways to stop nail biting is to apply a foul-tasting lacquer to the nails,” says Dr. Zeichner. “If you don’t like the taste, then you will stop putting it in your mouth.”
There are special nail polishes with a bitter flavor you can paint on your nails. The terrible taste will make you think twice before chewing.
4. Get Regular Manicures
Want an extra reason to stop chewing on your nails? Try splurging on a nice manicure at the nail salon, you’ll be less likely to want to ruin them by biting if you’ve spent money and effort to make them look so nice.
5. Cover your Nails Up
If a manicure doesn’t do much to stop you from biting, try finding a way to cover your nails up. “You want to put some blocks and methods in place to make it impossible to bite,” Dr. Berry explains.
Covering your nails with a barrier like gloves, mittens, or using a retainer-style or bite plate devices in your mouth- can act as a deterrent for nail biting behaviors. If wearing gloves interferes with activities throughout your daily life, using band aids and sticks can be just as effective.
6. Try to Gradually Stop Biting your Nails
Try to stop biting one set of nails, such as your thumb nails, first. When that’s successful, eliminate your pinky nails, pointer nails, or even an entire hand. The goal is to get to the point where you no longer bite any of your nails.
At first, you will likely still notice yourself biting your nails, despite the amount of willpower you think you have.
But with time and patience, you can move past this habit and be on your way to healthy and pain-free nails for life.
Say goodbye to feeling embarrassed of your brittle, gnawed-on nails!
Let us know in the comments below if any of these tips helped you on your journey to achieving healthier looking nails!