How to Stop Biting Your Nails in 10 Steps

In this article I will explain how to stop biting your nails with what has worked for me, since I have been several years with this bad habit.

You may have tried everything to control onychophagia and have not seen results, but with the right actions you can stop biting your nails. The effort will be worth it, since it is a bad habit, almost an addiction that can produce unpleasant consequences.

How to Stop Biting Your Nails

How to stop Eating nails

It is a habit that often begins in childhood, sometimes in adolescence and can continue into adulthood.

With regard to sex there is equality. Although women seem more concerned about the aesthetic problem and come for help more than men.

Some surveys show 45% of children during puberty, 25% of college students and about 10% of adults over 35 years of age binge nails.

Why do people eat nails?

The problem with habits is that you do not realize that you do it because it is routine and you are barely aware of it. You can eat your nails and not be able to avoid it because you are not aware of it. It is usually anxiety, stress and boredom that cause this habit.

It is a way to alleviate anxiety, and frustration or loneliness can act as triggers. On the other hand, it is possible that genetics may play a role.

It may also be the symptom of a psychological condition such as obsessive compulsive disorder and children who have attention deficit, defiant disorder or anxiety are more likely to do so.

Do you know how to beat fear ?

Consequences of eating the nails

Biting your nails can have emotional and physical problems. First, biting nails and cuticles can leave red and sore fingers. The area around the nails may bleed and can become infected.

In addition, bacteria and viruses can pass through your fingers to your mouth and make you more vulnerable to infection. It can also cause weak or poorly aligned teeth.

Finally, the appearance may be unsightly, which in turn leads to more anxiety and stress. You can visit this article on how to control stress.

For adolescents and adults who continue to eat their nails, some techniques have proven effective.

How To Stop Biting Your Nails Step By Step 

1-Commitment

If it has taken you many years to try for this bad habit it is probably because you have not compromised enough.

You have to seriously commit to stop biting them. Some tips:  Write down a post-it commitment and leave it in a visible place.

Tell people nearby. This usually works very well; if you communicate to other people that you want to leave that habit, your commitment will grow.

2-Leverage

I call leverage to reflect and be aware of the consequences that will have to continue with that habit. Will you still have ugly nails? What negative consequences will you continue to bite your nails?

This step is important because it will act as motivations for the critical moments in which you enter you want to bring your fingers to the mouth.

3-Identify the moments of “Alert”

With moments of alert I mean those in which you are more likely to start biting your nails and make it more difficult to stop.

Normally they are:

  • Stressful situations.
  • Situations of boredom.

Then think about what situations you are most likely to start doing. For example: when you sit down to watch TV, when you argue, when you get nervous…

4-Focus on the Present Moment

It is necessary that you realize that you are in a moment of alert, because it is possible that you happen through one, you bite the nails and not even you realize it.

Being in the present moment would lead to knowing what you are thinking and feeling. You will have the impulse to take your hands to the mouth although you will have to avoid it.

In this regard, I recommend mindfulness, psychological ability with innumerable benefits and that will also help you in this task.


With the identification and the experience of the “present moment” you will have taken a great step, because you will be aware of the moment in which you are going to eat the nails.

But now, you have to avoid how you do it. Actually, I think that here you can use your creativity and you do not have to adjust to what I tell you, but I’ll tell you what I have informed that works and what has worked for me. If you have another habit to do and replace with eating your nails you will advance much faster.

In my case it has worked very well to learn the technique of breathing with the belly to do it in critical moments. So much so that it became a habit. The minfulness practice the and breathing technique have made me aware of how breathing.

Others are:

  • If you are sitting, put your hands under your thighs and calm down.
  • Get up and talk to someone. Usually we are much less likely to bite when people are ahead.
  • Fixed bridge. If it is very difficult for you to end this habit, put it directly on your fingers. Even if you bring your fingers to the teeth, the fixed will be there to avoid biting.
  • Squeeze your fists.
  • When you start, think of the image you want to have of yourself.
  • Chew gum.
  • Get out and run.

Important: This you will have to do at the critical moment, when you perceive that you feel like biting yourself.

The important thing here is that what works best is to replace the habit with another. That is, it will not work as well, try to stop biting you, but do something completely different in its place and prevent you from biting.

5-Reward yourself

When you have managed to stay one day without eating your nails, reward yourself with something that has value for you. You can make a plan like this:

-1 day without eating your nails – reward. For example: going to the movies, eating your favorite food, a gift.

-7 days without eating your nails-reward.

-15 days without eating your nails-reward.

-1 month-reward.

Besides rewarding that you have managed to stay a while without biting yourself, it is good that you reward good habits. If for example you go running just after you feel like eating your nails, it will be good to give yourself a reward for that new behavior to take hold.

6-Use reminders

A reminder will allow you to remember your commitment whenever you are close to falling into temptation.

There may be several:

  • Paint your nails.
  • A bracelet.
  • Put you fixed.
  • A ring.
  • Clay…

7-Forget about perfection

As I have researched, and by myself, people who bite their nails often seek perfection; they want the nails to be perfectly aligned.

Forget about being a perfectionist, you just have to start thinking differently. That is, to think that it is not necessary that everything be perfect, it does not matter if someone sees you nails imperfect. Even if you start biting, stop, it does not matter that you’ve left your nail “imperfect.”

8-Keep the progress

Once you have taken the first step and you have been a few days without falling into temptation, you will have to keep progress and not lose all the way traveled.

Of course you will have to continue practicing all the previous steps, although you can also use methods to see your progress and to maintain and increase your motivation.

For example, you can take pictures of your nails to be aware of your progress. When you observe them, you will be more motivated because you will think that your effort has been worthwhile. This is as simple as taking pictures of your hands with your smartphone.

9-Work your self-esteem and solve the stress

Your results will be magnified if you work some possible causes of this vice. I cannot stop in this article because it would become too extensive, although I recommend the following articles:

  • Raise self-esteem.
  • Manage stress.

10-Other techniques

In addition to the above, you can use other methods that help you, both to complement and alternatives:

Use limes: Do not even bother to trim your nails when they are too long. This would fall back into the bad habit. Instead, when you see them being long, use a file to trim them.

Liquids / enamel: In pharmacies sell liquids that are applied to the nails and that give them a bad taste when biting them. I have not tried it even though I have heard that they are effective.

And what has served you? Could you stop? Why did you start? You can comment in the comments section, I am interested in your opinion. Thank you!

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