How to Get Rid of Nail Biting Habit


Nail Biting HabitDifferent people use different ways to manage stress: some sleep, some eat, some shop, and some bite nails. Nail-biting (onychophagia) is the most typical nervous habit. This behavior can be performed because of nervousness, hunger or just boredom. Some can even bite nails while sleeping. Apart from the fact that after it the deformed nails look awful and it interferes with normal nail growth, nail biting can be dangerous. As it is hard to remove bacteria under the surface of the nail, these bacteria can easily get in the mouth. Nail-biting can result in infection, for example, gums infection. As the skin on the cuticle gets broken during nail-biting, it can bleed and becomes very susceptible to microbial and viral infections. Bitten fingertips can become painful.

Nail Biting Treatment

One can bite their nails even without realizing it. This is why sometimes it becomes a big problem to get rid of fingernail-biting habit. So, what can be done? There are several treatment measures that can help you to get rid of this habit.

  • Take time and take care of your nails. It will motivate you to keep your nails neat and attractive and prevent from biting them.
  • At home, if you are just having your free time, coat your nails with mustard (or another bad-tasting substance). So each time you start to bite your nails while you are watching TV or reading, you will feel its bitter taste and immediately stop. There are also bitter-tasting polishes, which can be applied and help the same way.
  • Use stress-management techniques, if the reason of your nail-biting habit is stress.
  • As nail-biting is often an emotional problem, so first try to resolve the underlying problem. This may help to get rid of the habit.
  • Wearing artificial nails can also make you stop biting your nails.
  • Another way to get rid of this habit is to substitute it with another activity, such as drawing or squeezing a stress ball.
  • Wearing gloves or colored stickers on your nails whenever possible makes it possible to control the habit.
  • An orthodontic measure of nail-biting treatment is also possible – wearing a retainer, which makes it impossible for the nail biter to sever their nail with their teeth.
  • For some nail biters it is enough just to make a mental note to stop, such as to promise themselves, that, for example, starting from today they will never bite nails anymore.

Unfortunately these measures of the habit breaking can’t for sure be effective for everyone. Such people might need a behavioral therapy or some medications, like anti-depressants. But such cases need a qualified specialist, so first make an appointment with a doctor.


  1. This is obviously written by someone who is not suffering from true onychophagia. Keep them neat so you’ll be motivated to not bite them? Make a mental note to stop? That all assumes that I am even concious of when I am doing it. As for substituting another activity, that sometimes works – but not reliably, or for long. One bite is all it takes to undo weeks worth of good behavior. Bitter coatings and polishes don’t help. In fact, it’s sometimes MORE rewarding to bite them if they have nail polish on them (yes, I know it sounds gross). The placement of stickers, colors, or even false nails create a new “weight” to the nails, and make me even more concious of them than I normally would be, and make me more prone to biting, not less. It’s sort of like going on a diet, suddenly thinking all the time about what you should (or should not) be eating, so in the end you eat MORE, and gain weight. The only valid options I see posted here are gloves (impractical, and you have to take them off sometime), and retainers to prevent use of one’s teeth. Somehow I think if I went the retainer route, I’d start to pick at my nails/cuticles instead of biting them. I wonder if there is a scientific name for cuticle picking?

  2. I have the same problem for 24 years. I want to stop it coz I know that it also damage the teeth. BUt my problem is the “urge” to bite and that I only get contented when that “urge” stops once I bit my nails.I had some periods before when I stop biting but it did not last. I started picking at the skin around my nails and it’s really an awful feeling.I want to stop and it’s really disturbing.

  3. the things stated above.. can be done only when i m aware of biting nails..
    but when this awful thing starts.i m in a state oh half consioucness..
    i cant resist myself.despiteof knowing that i m wrong.

  4. I am also extremely frustrated with trying to quit picking my nails. I do it whenever I am nervous, excited, or bored. I have bit my nails since I learned how to chew (started perhaps when I was about 2 years old). I really would like to stop before we have kids; I don’t want our kids to “copy” what I am doing. However, I do agree with what the other commentors are saying: It is easy to SAY that you are going to stop; It is nearly impossible to follow through with it. If it was easy to stop, no one would still be biting their nails! I also think that making your nails look nice doesn’t work either; usually it doesn’t matter to me what they look like- i just want to bite them.

  5. i am very stressed due to the habit of nail biting, Although, this habit is quite tough to avoid but adopting aforesaid prescriptions can bring some advice i would want to suggest is that,taping your nails while you would think that i must bite the nails sub-conciously can prevent some habit of it.

  6. yah well i bite my nails but only if they get longish and i wish i could stop but i think i only chew nails like if im in line at the grocery store and when im bored. i think the mustard thing would help, but i cant wear mustard around in public!!! what can i do??? please help me im really desperate cuz i usually swallow my nails and my fingers get gross and the flesh starts to rot and peel then they get infected and pus comes out of them ewww gross!

  7. Yes..its very hard to stop biting nails, but not impossible.I have marked a finger & made sure that incase feel like biting, i go for the other fingures but not the one i’ve marked. in that case i save that perticular fingre by not biting the nails.Till now two of my fingers are looking great with complete nails on it, i am really excited & motivated as well.I wish all the luck for the biters…if i can do it ..then you all can do it….trust me.

  8. well i have been biting my nails for lets say 5 to 6 years but i am only 11 so…
    i bite my nails when I am bored example (rainy days when there is no school) i just sit around watching television and BOOM my nail is in my mouth.
    I also bite my nails when i am nervous example (at school on testes or just in general when i don’t know a answer)
    I always have to have something in my mouth so i think i have solution GUM
    it is in my mouth and I only have to have it for at least weak to get rid of my habit.
    I m coming u with other ways because none of these tips worked so i hope it works for you and for me (cause I am just starting)

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