How to Stop Nail Biting

How to Stop Nail Biting

Last Updated: Tue, January 23, 2024

Nail biting usually starts as a bad habit. However, just like any bad habit, it is hard to break. If you find yourself biting your nails more than usual, knowing how to stop nail biting can help. 

Think about the times when you bit your nails because you’re afraid or bored. Perhaps, you don’t even realize you’ve bitten your nails until they become short. 

Whatever the situation may be, there are several ways to stop nail biting. 

In this article, we will talk about nail biting and how to stop nail biting. 

What Is Nail Biting? 

As its name suggests, nail biting is the act of frequently biting your nails. 

Many people, especially young ones, have bitten their nails at some time in their lives. Clinically known as onychophagia, nail biting is a body-focused act. 

Nail biting might range from a harmless activity on occasion to a harmful, repetitive activity. 

Many people who start biting their nails at a young age do it out of habit. Others develop a lifelong habit that is incredibly difficult to break.

Nail biting usually begins in childhood and can become more severe during puberty. It's not always evident why someone develops this behavior, but once it begins, it can be tough to break.

Is Nail Biting Addicting? 

There are several ideas as to why people begin nail-biting. These include perfectionism and stress. 

There's also the Freudian theory that people bite their nails because they’re locked at the oral stage of psychological development. Hun However, there has been little evidence as to why nail biting is so addicting (20% to 30% of people do it).

However, it can be concluded that nail biting has something to do with its cost-free convenience, practicality, and social acceptability. 

It also gives people a sense of satisfaction and control. That satisfying feeling people get from biting their nails any way they want makes them addicted to it. 

So, yes, nail biting is addicting

How to Stop Nail Biting 

  1. Trim and clean your nails on a regular basis.

  2. Apply bitter polish on your nails.

  3. Cover your nails.

  4. Determine your triggers.

  5. Replace nail biting with a better habit.

  6. Make modest adjustments. 

How to Stop Nail Biting the Right Way 

If your first attempt to quit biting your nails fails, you can try a different strategy. It may take a combination of things to totally stop it. 

While nail biting is addicting, it can be stopped. Here’s how to stop nail biting the right way:

1.     Trim and clean your nails on a regular basis. 

Long nails might be difficult to resist. Hence, clipping and cleaning your nails help. 

Pick a specific time and day each week for your trim. Take care of hangnails and ragged edges so you don't bite them as well. 

You can also get professional manicures on a regular basis. Spending the money and knowing that someone would soon examine your nails may stop you from biting your nails. 

2.     Apply bitter polish on your nails.

Tons of people suffer from nail biting. For this reason, there are nail polish brands meant to help people stop nail biting. 

If you put your nails in your mouth, they won't harm you. But the bitter taste will stop you from doing it. 

You may find these nail polish brands online. Better yet, see a manicurist or dermatologist for further suggestions.

3.     Cover your nails. 

You can wear gloves to cover your nails. However, some people don’t like this. 

As an alternative, you can use tape, stickers, or bandages to cover your nails. Just like bitter polish, covering your nails prevents you from chewing them. 

4.     Determine your triggers. 

Think about when you get tempted to bite your nails. What causes you to get the urge to bite your nails?

Is it stress? Do you feel nervous? Are you bored?

For instance, you might discover that you nibble on your nails while watching TV or using your phone. 

Once you've identified what triggers your nail-biting desire, adjust your surroundings to make it more difficult to bite your nails.

If you notice that you frequently bite your nails when working alone, try sitting in the dining room instead and doing it in front of other people. This helps you become more aware of your behavior.

5.     Replace nail biting with a better habit. 

If you’ve been asking how to stop nail biting, try replacing the act with a better one. 

For one, you can keep your hands occupied to prevent your nails from entering your mouth. Consider using a fidget toy or stress ball to keep your hands busy. 

You can also do something that involves your hand such as writing and painting. 

6.     Make modest adjustments. 

Some people stop smoking by progressively reducing the amount of cigarettes they smoke every day. You may do the same with nail biting.

Begin by selecting one finger. Stick to one finger at a time until it becomes a habit and the nail starts to appear healthier.

Then, select another finger and repeat the process. Do this until you're down to a single finger. Slowly remove that finger until you have fully broken the habit. 


There are several effective ways to stop biting your nails. But if you've done everything above and are still unable to break the habit, cognitive behavioral therapy is an excellent method for changing your behavior. 

Having the right support system and using a sobriety app like I Am Sober can help as well.

I Am Sober is a free app that helps you get some control back in your life.

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