Nail biting is a nasty habit, usually brought about by stress and sometimes boredom. Your nails are always growing and will eventually grow back, so long-term damage isn’t a concern. This habit can be the problem for men, women and children, though it tends to be a bigger problem for men -- who don’t worry about the appearance of their nails as much as some women do. Because hiding your nails under layers of pretty nail polish or fake nails isn’t an option, a few less-noticeable methods can put an end to nail biting.
Trim your nails regularly to give you less to chew on. File them down with an emery board to smooth them out into a rounded shape, as sharp corners from simply cutting them straight across can be tempting to bite.
Apply a topical solution to your nails that makes them taste bad. Buy special formulas of clear nail polish and creams at a beauty supply store or drugstore. The terrible flavor can make you more aware and less apt to chew on your nails. If you don’t want to buy commercial products, soak your nails for a few minutes in lemon juice or hot sauce.
Wear gloves over your hands, whenever possible, to put a barrier between your teeth and your nails. This will at least make you think twice about biting your nails. Instead of wearing gloves, cover each nail with a bandage or tape.
Keep your mouth busy by chewing on gum or sucking on mints.
Doodle on a piece of paper or keep a small ball on hand to squeeze. Keep your hands busy, especially during idle time when you aren’t doing anything. If you catch yourself about to bite your nails, grab a hold of an armrest or even your knee and wait out the urge. Don’t let your hand go near your face.
If nothing seems to help and nail biting is such a severe problem that you can’t quit on your own, consult with a doctor or mental health professional to determine the cause and find a solution.
Melynda Sorrels spent 10 years in the military working in different capacities of the medical field, including dental assisting, health services administration, decontamination and urgent medical care. Awarded the National Guardsman’s Medal for Lifesaving efforts in 2002, Sorrels was also a nominee for a Red Cross Award and a certified EMT-B for four years.