How To Stop Biting Nails

A woman biting her nails
You sit down in your chair, ready to begin your day of relaxation and self-care. You put on a face mask, pour yourself a cup of tea, and get settled in—but there's one last thing you need to do before you can truly relax. You reach for your nails and start biting them. Again. Ugh.

You may not be aware, but nail-biting falls under a list of behaviors known as body-focused repetitive behavior (or BFRD). These are little habits (such as hair pulling or skin picking) that, when repeated often enough, can cause damage.

Nail biting is an annoying habit that's tough to break. But it's worth trying. Why? Well, it comes with plenty of health benefits (including a reduced risk of infection). So if you're looking for ways to prevent nail biting, read on! We've compiled some tips that have helped so many others over the years.

Why Do You Bite Your Nails?

Before you can figure out how to stop biting nails, it's important to understand why you do it in the first place. Nail-biting is often a coping mechanism for anxiety or stress. It may also be a habit that you picked up in childhood and have never been able to break. If you're not sure why you bite your nails, consider keeping a journal. Write down when you feel the urge to bite your nails and what's going on in your life at that time. This can help you identify patterns and triggers so that you can avoid them in the future.

What Are The Health Risks Associated With Biting Nails?

A woman biting her nails

Aside from looking bad, biting nails can also lead to some serious health problems. It can cause your teeth to become misaligned, and you may end up swallowing bacteria if you have dirty fingers. This can lead to stomach issues or even an infection. Nail-biting can also cause your skin to break, putting you at risk of contracting a virus or bacteria.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails

You can't stop biting your nails overnight, but you can train yourself to avoid doing it. Below is a list of our top recommendations and tactics to help stop nail-biting.

Identify Nail Biting Triggers

If you're trying to stop biting your nails, the first thing you should do is to take a hard look at where in your day you're commonly engaging in the behavior. You may, for example, notice that you often start nibbling when you're scrolling through emails, doing work, or watching TV.

Once you know what exactly kicks you into the nail-biting drive, you can take the next step to modify your environment to make it harder to engage in the habit.

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 sitting in the dining room instead and doing it around other people, which can help you become more aware and conscious of the behavior.

Make A Running List Of Urges

Urges are different from triggers. A trigger is something that sets off the nail-biting behavior, while an urge is the actual desire to bite your nails. You may find that you have urges even when you're not near a trigger. Each time you have an urge to bite your nails, record it.

Taking a break to record your nail-biting interrupts the pattern of nail-biting and allows you to think about it. Many individuals are able to ignore biting their nails at that very moment, progressing toward extinguishing the habit.

Address The Root Cause

When you catch yourself biting your nails, it's important to ask yourself what emotions you might be feeling at that moment.

Are you bored? Anxious? Nervous? Angry? Frustrated?

Beneath-the-surface emotions are often the root cause of nail-biting. If you can address these emotions, you'll be one step closer to quitting the habit for good.

There are many ways to do this. You can journal about your feelings, talk to a therapist or friend, or even punch a pillow! The important thing is that you find an outlet for your emotions so that you don't have to express them through nail-biting.

Keep Short Nails

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The shorter your nails are, the less there is to bite. Keeping your nails short also makes it harder to bite them without noticing. You can use nail clippers or file your nails down every few days to keep them short.

Be careful not to bite on your nails after this. Short nails often expose your skin, and biting on your nail bed can lead to skin infections.

Apply Bitter-tasting Nail Polish

If you have trouble keeping your nails short, you can try applying bad-tasting nail polish to them. The taste will help remind you not to bite your nails, and eventually, the habit will fade.

The drawback is that some of these special nail polishes include chemicals such as formaldehyde, which are hazardous to consume. It can also cause harm when applied topically. As a result, look for a nontoxic brand if possible. You'll get the same effects without worrying about any negative consequences.

Use Positive Reinforcement

When ever you go a certain period without biting your nails, reward yourself! This could be something as simple as taking a break to watch your favorite TV show or buying yourself a new book.

The key is to find something that you'll actually look forward to so that you're motivated to keep up the good work. Positive reinforcement will help train your brain to associate not biting your nails with something pleasant, making it more likely that you'll stick to your goal.

Change Your Environment

If you find that you bite your nails more often in certain environments, try to avoid those situations.

An important part of quitting any bad habit is changing your environment to make it easier to resist temptation. If there are certain places where you always seem to bite your nails, try to avoid them as much as possible. This could mean taking a different route to work or avoiding social situations that make you feel anxious.

The more you can change your environment to support your goal of quitting nail-biting, the easier it will be to stick to it.

Cover Your Nails

If you can't seem to keep your nails short or resist the urge to bite them, you can try covering them up. For example, you can wear gloves when you're in situations where you typically bite your nails or painting them with a clear polish.

The goal is to make it as difficult as possible to bite your nails so that you eventually break the habit. If covering your nails doesn't work, you may want to consider getting fake nails or investing in a nail treatment that makes them stronger and less likely to be damaged by biting.

Treat Yourself To Manicures

One of the best ways to break the nail-biting habit is to treat yourself to regular manicures. This will not only make your nails look nicer, but it will also give you something to focus on other than biting them.

Plus, getting your nails done professionally at a nail salon can be a relaxing experience that helps reduce stress. If you're feeling anxious or frustrated, take a break and go get a manicure instead of biting your nails.

Focusing on taking care of your nails can help you feel good about yourself and make it less likely that you'll want to damage them by biting them.

Get A Stress Ball

Stress is often the trigger for nail-biting, so it's important to find ways to relax when you're feeling anxious. One way to do this is to get a stress ball and squeeze it whenever you feel the urge to bite your nails.

You can also try deep breathing exercises or meditation. The goal is to find a way to calm yourself down so that you don't feel the need to bite your nails.

Speak With An Expert

If you've tried all of the above and you're still struggling to stop biting your nails, it may be time to seek help from a professional.

There are many therapists who specialize in helping people overcome bad habits. They can provide you with the tools and support you need to finally kick the chronic nail-biting habit for good.

Don't be afraid to reach out for help if you're having trouble quitting on your own. There's no shame in admitting that you need assistance to overcome a difficult problem.

How To Heal Your Nails After Biting Them

A handing holding a love sign

If you've been biting your nails for a long time, it's likely that they're damaged and in need of some tender loving care. Here are a few tips to help heal your nails so that they can grow back healthy and strong:

  • Soak your nails in warm water for five minutes each day. This will help hydrate them and promote growth.

  • Apply cuticle cream or oil to your nails every night before bed. This will help keep them moisturized and prevent further damage.

  • Use an emery board or nail file to smooth out any rough edges on your nails. Be sure to file in one direction only to avoid further damage.

  • Consider taking a biotin supplement to help promote healthy nail growth.

By following these tips, you can help your nails recover from the damage caused by biting them. With time and patience, they will eventually grow back healthy and strong.

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Final Thoughts

Biting your nails is a bad habit that can have some serious consequences for your health. But it's a habit that you can break with some effort and time. We hope these tips have helped you on your journey to quitting nail-biting for good!

If you found this article helpful, please share it with others who might benefit from it. And if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment below! Thanks for reading!

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