woman nail biting

How To Stop Biting Nails

From children to teens to adults, nail biting is a common habit that’s often difficult to overcome. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, up to 33 percent of children bite their nails. This number increases to roughly 45% among teenagers. While the prevalence of nail biting decreases in adulthood, it’s a habit that many adults struggle with.

How to Stop the Nail Biting Habit

How to stop the nail biting habit
Nail biting is a habit; approaching it as such can help you stop.

Fortunately, there are many ways to stop biting nails. Once you find a strategy that works, you can rely on it to help you break your habit once and for all. Below, we discuss the ins and outs of how to stop biting nails. 

What Causes Nail Biting?

There is no shortage of causes of nail biting, so it’s important to pinpoint the culprit as soon as possible. Doing so will help you formulate a plan of attack. Some of the most common causes of nail biting include:

  • Impatience
  • Frustration and/or stress
  • Boredom
  • Emotional or psychological problems

The cause of your nail biting helps you decide how to best approach it from a treatment perspective. 

Why Biting Nails is Bad

It sounds like a harmless habit, but biting nails can be harmful to your health. This is particularly true if it turns into a long-term issue. Here are some of the reasons why biting nails is bad:

  • Damage to the skin around the nail
  • Increased risk of infection (related to skin damage)
  • Increased risk of spreading infection.
  • Teeth damage.

As you can see, if you don’t learn how to stop biting nails, it can result in both short and long-term health concerns. 

Ways to Stop Nail Biting

A girl with short fingernails
Keeping your fingernails short is one of the ways to stop biting nails.

When it comes to the best way to stop biting nails, here’s the only thing you need to know: do what works for you. As long as you have a strategy that generates the intended result, you can use it as a guide on how to stop biting nails permanently. And that’s your primary goal. Keep reading for more detailed advice on how to stop biting your nails. 

Identify Triggers for Nail Biting

Before you can follow any tips to stop biting nails, you must first identify the triggers causing this habit. 

The most common triggers include:

  • Anxiety: For example, if you’re nervous about an upcoming test or work presentation, you may bite your nails. 
  • Boredom: You may notice that you immediately begin to bite your nails when you’re bored. 
  • Genetics: If your parents are nail biters, there’s a good chance you will be too. 

Cut Your Nails

You can’t talk about how to stop biting nails without mentioning this tip. When you cut your nails, there’s less surface to bite. And with that, you may soon realize that trying isn’t worth the effort.

The key to success is to maintain short nails at all times. The second they become long enough to bite, you’ll once again be tempted to do so. Protect against this by getting into the habit of cutting your nails every second or third day. 

Cover Your Nails

It sounds extreme, but it works. You can use gloves, press on nails, or band-aids to cover your nails.  It’s simple to see how this will work. If you can’t put your nails in your mouth, you can’t bite them. 

Manicures for Nail Biting

It sounds like a mistake, as you don’t want to chew up all those pretty nails, but it’s a tactic that works for many people. Here’s why this can be effective:

  • It’s less enticing to bite your nails when you know how much you paid to have them done. 
  • Nail polish has a bad taste, which may deter you. 
  • The use of fake or gel nails prohibits you from biting.

There are many good ways to stop biting your nails, but you might as well get as much value as possible out of your approach. And there’s no better way of doing so than with regular manicures. 

Look to the Help of Friends

This means two things:

  • Ask your friends for personal advice: For instance, if you know someone who has struggled with nail biting in the past, ask them how they were able to overcome the habit. They may have a tip that you’ve overlooked.
  • Turn to them for support: Nail biting is a serious concern, so you should never be too proud to ask for the support of your loved ones. 

Remember, you’re not the only person in the world who struggles with this habit. There’s a good chance that at least one person in your circle of friends is in the same position. 

Be Mindful of How Gross Nail Biting Can Be

Nail biting is gross because of bacteria
Nail biting can introduce harmful bacteria into your mouth and broken skin on your fingers.

Sometimes, this alone is more than enough for you to stop. Take the time to really think about how gross this habit is. It could scare you straight.

Here’s why nail biting is gross:

  • You’re putting your fingers in your mouth, which can spread germs.
  • You’re damaging your skin, which can result in dangerous infections. 
  • You’re putting nails into your mouth, which you could swallow.
  • You’re spitting nails out, which spreads germs (and grosses other people out).

Be Mindful of Your Teeth

Your nails and surrounding skin aren’t the only things at risk of injury. You must also be mindful of your teeth and the potential for damage.

Nail biting can cause the following:

  • Erosion, cracking and chipping
  • Chronic teeth grinding
  • Gingivitis
  • Root resorption
  • Teeth gaps

These are the many reasons why it’s so important to learn how to stop kids from biting nails. If a child develops this habit while they’re young, they could permanently damage their teeth before reaching adulthood. 

Technology to Help Stop Nail Biting

It seems like there’s a technology for everything in today’s world, and that holds true with nail biting. There are a variety of mobile applications designed to curb nail biting. Used in correspondence with other technology, such as a smartwatch, these apps are designed to remind you to not bite your nails.

For example, there’s a bracelet that vibrates when you raise your hand, which reminds you not to bite your nails. 

Bitter Tasting Nail Polish

Some people use this as a last resort, while others experiment with it the moment they realize they’re in trouble. There are a variety of nail polish products that are bitter tasting, all while providing you with the appearance you’re seeking. It’s the best of both worlds. Top selling products include Mavala Stop and Ella Mila, both of which are durable, easy to apply, and most importantly, effective.

Honest 10 is another product making its way to market, with benefits including approval by dermatologists and pediatricians, non-toxic, and designed for users aged three and up. As you search for techniques on how to stop the nail biting habit, you may end up here. One coat of bitter tasting nail polish could be the answer. 

Reward Yourself for Not Biting Your Nails

A fancy restaurant is one possible reward for not biting nails
Treat yourself to dinner at a fancy restaurant as a reward for not biting nails.

It’s generally easier to reach your short and long-term goals when you reward yourself for doing so. The reward doesn’t have to set you back an arm and a leg. It simply needs to give you the motivation necessary to kick this habit to the curb. For example, you could reward yourself with dinner at your favorite restaurant if you don’t bite your nails for one month. 

When to Look for Help to Stop Nail Biting

No matter how hard you try, you may realize that you’re not making progress. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. It means that you need to look for help. Here are some times when it’s best to get the help of a doctor or therapist:

  • When all other options (see above) have failed to generate results. 
  • If you believe the habit is related to a more serious problem, such as an anxiety disorder. 
  • When your nail biting is causing other health problems, such as gaps in your teeth.

When it comes to learning how to help kids stop biting nails, you may need a little bit of help getting through to them. 

Final Thoughts on How to Stop Biting Nails

We hope that this information will help you on your journey in kicking your nail biting habit out of your life.

As difficult as it may be, there are many ways to overcome this habit permanently. So, experiment with any and every idea that makes sense, track your results, and tweak your approach as necessary.