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Stop Biting Your Fingernails

Updated on February 27, 2014

How to stop all the biting and chewing!

No one really likes to bite their nails.  It's not a pretty habit and can be a sign of anxiety and compulsiveness.  And it's disgusting to think about all the germs that congregate under those bits of keratin. It's something you feel you have to apologize for whenever someone calls you on it..  "I'm just a nervous person," or "I've been trying to quit for years."  Well excuse no more!  Today, you will learn the best-kept secrets for halting the habit once and for all.

The Whoopi Goldberg Tip

If this doesn't stop you, you might need professional help.

Whoopi Goldberg, co-host of ABC's talk show The View, gave another co-host a nail-biting tip. She said, "How many times a day do you use the bathroom to take a dump?" The co-host blushed and said, "At least twice." Whoopi then said, "Do you use soap after each visit?" The co-host naturally said, "Yes." Then Whoopi swooped in for the kill. "Do you use a nail brush after each visit? Do you know how many germs lurk under your nails after you use the toilet?" Everyone groaned. Gross! But true. Each time you bite your nails, you are chewing on tiny particles of feces! Think about it! Now go ahead and put your hands in your mouth again. No way!

Great Stuff on Amazon

Some other ways to keep from biting.

Herbal Home Spa: A Natural Approach to Beautiful Hair, Skin, Hands, and Feet
Herbal Home Spa: A Natural Approach to Beautiful Hair, Skin, Hands, and Feet

Keep your hands well manicured while reducing your anxiety at the same time.

Beautiful Hands and Nails, Naturally
Beautiful Hands and Nails, Naturally

Beautiful, painted nails are not as tempting to chew, especially if you spent lots of time or money to get them looking nice!

Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook
Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook

Keep your hands busy with a cool hobby: knitting. Kill two birds with one stone - stop biting and make a sweater!


More tried & true methods

Most have been tried and many of them are true!

1. Confront your problem. Get a camera and take some pictures of your bitten fingernails. Examine your nails, and list their problems.

2. Visualize yourself with healthy nails, and how great they will look.

3. Pick at least one nail to "protect" at a time.

After a few days, an unbitten nail will flourish and reward you. Do not bite it. If you must, bite one of the 'unprotected' ones.

Once you have grown your unbitten nail for a while, start protecting another one. And another.

Record your progress in a notebook or photo album.

4. Recognizing that it usually takes takes three weeks to grow nails half a centimeter, chart out in the book how long you want your nails to be by a certain date.

5. Eat calcium- and magnesium- rich foods so that your nails will repair and grow well. Not only that, but most of the reason that the human body wants to bite nails is the lack of calcium and magnesium in the body and the body needs that material back.

6. Push your cuticles back. Many nail-biters do not have "moons" on the base of their fingernails because their cuticles have not been pushed back. To do this, gently push your cuticles towards your finger to reveal more of your nail. This is easier to do after a shower when your hands and nails are wet. This makes the nail appear longer, and it gives a more attractive shape, which might also be a motivation to stop biting.

7. Find a habit to take the place of nail biting. Whenever you have the urge to bite, do that instead. Some people like to drum their fingers, or just stare at their hands. Just make sure it's not a bad habit; choose a helpful one or one that doesn't really matter either way.

8. 'Bitrex' is a chemical that is put in products to make them taste foul, obtained from your local pharmacy. It's included in nibble inhibitors that you paint on to your nails. Carry some with you at all times. Apply your nasty solution several times a day. If you get used to the taste, choose another brand.

9. Distract your mouth. Eat carrot sticks to keep you busy. Keep a stick of gum handy for those weak moments.

10. No more idle hands..Distract your hands by taking up a hobby. A hobby to distract your hands might be making models or maintaining your house, knitting or crochet, running or other outside pursuits, or even nail care and decoration!

11. For those whose nail biting is obsessive/compulsive it may help to approach your hobby obsessively.

12. Cover your nails. For females, fit artificial nails. They can really help. For guys, polish them and apply some shine/growth promoter or petroleum jelly. It's harder to bite nails that are looking great!

13. Keep gloves in your back pocket and wear them when you want to bite.

14. Put little pieces of tape on the ends of your fingers, to remind yourself how destructive biting is.

15. If you have any surplus growth, cut your nails back. Keep clippers with you at all times. You can't bite if there's nothing there!

16. Speaking about your nails will help to focus your mind on your goals. Ask for help from your partner(s). Keep talking about your goals.

17. Show off your improved nails, and get much-needed encouragement and praise from your peers.

Be proud of your improving nails. They will shine with beauty.

18. Go for a manicure, and chat with the manicurist about having great nails. If you are male and you go in for a manicure and anyone gives you grief for not being manly, just say you are taking radical steps, whatever it takes. That should be manly enough for anyone.

19. Keep looking after your nails, with cuticle oil, shine and growth promoter, and no biting!

If You Need More Help Than Nails...

Sometimes anxiety or other issues can be at the root of your nail-biting. Hopefully, some of these resources can help.

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More Stuff You Should Know

Squidoo seems to like their writers to fill up space. I published this lens in 2008 and now, in 2014, it seems that is has either "low quality" or "not enough" writing. So, to appease the powers, I am adding more text on fingernails, biting nails, nail biting, bad habits, nasty habits, beauty tips and just about anything else that I can think of to get my lens back to a publishable state. I already had my most popular lens removed after being on Squidoo for more than five years and earning a spot in the top 1000 lenses. I was told it was removed due to plagiarism, but I found that other sites had plagiarized MY content as it was published after my Squidoo lens was. So, I hope you haven't read this far, but if you have, please take your nails out of your mouth and smile.

Tell us your best habit-halting secrets here.

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  • AldricChang1 profile image

    AldricChang1 9 years ago

    LOL! I could have sworn I was about to bite my nails subconsciously as I was reading your lens! 5 stars :)

  • profile image

    anonymous 9 years ago

    I so want beautiful nails but it's so hard to stop bitting ...what's up with that !! why is it so hard !!!! yes i can just go get my nails done but why when i can just grow them. RIGHT ! i toe nails look just perfect. but when it comes to my hand > good lord !!! need help ..

  • likeitgrowsontr profile image

    likeitgrowsontr 9 years ago

    Great lens. I used to be a biter too! I recently published an article about my experience called How to Quit Nail Biting. Check it out if you get a chance!

  • profile image

    mktplace 9 years ago

    I hav ebitten my nails my whole life. Read about how to Stop biting your nails now here.

  • Teacher Adez7 profile image

    Teacher Adez7 10 years ago

    I know someone who is 56 yrs old and has bitten their nails from birth. I will advise them to look at your lens. Thanks. :)