Remedies to help you stop biting your fingernails

Stopping a fingernail biting habit is both a physical and a mental challenge. Break the nibbling habit with these techniques.

Nail biting, medically known as onychophagia, is a common nervous habit for children and adults. This habit can last for years and is not easy to break, but many different remedies are available for both mental and physical help. With encouragement, anyone can stop biting their fingernails and achieve beautiful hands and nails.

Stop Biting Your Fingernails: Mental Techniques

Nail biting begins as a nervous habit. To break the habit, carefully examine when you are likely to bite your nails. If you are nervous at the time, such as before public speaking or while flying, it is possible to address the cause of the nail biting, which should cease when you are no longer nervous.

If you have been biting your nails for years, however, it is likely that the initial nervous trigger is gone even though the habit remains. To quell the mental urge to nibble, there are several meditative and self-hypnosis programs oriented specifically for nail-biters. They lower overall stress levels, reducing the tension and nervousness that leads to nail biting.

Another mental remedy for nail biting is to consider the ramifications of chewing on your nails. Society is growing more conscientious than ever about germs and contamination, and many people regularly wash their hands throughout the day. If you bite your nails, however, you are subconsciously introducing every germ your hand has touched into your mouth. Nails, in fact, come into contact with far more germs than other parts of the hand, because they are used to pick up small objects such as paperclips or coins, and you use your nails to scratch other body parts. The mere thought of what bacteria could be lurking on your nails may be enough to end your nail biting habit.

Stop Biting Your Fingernails: Physical Techniques

Physical remedies for nail biting are far more effective for most people than mental techniques. An easy, inexpensive method to discourage nibbling is to cover up the nails. Gloves, band aids, or even tape can easily be used to cover nails, and you are prevented from reaching the nail whenever you unconsciously start to nibble. Unfortunately, to be most effective, the nails should be covered continuously for several days or weeks to insure the habit is broken, and that solution is not practical for most people.

A popular method to ending nail biting is to coat your nails with an unpleasant solution. Specialized lotions and clear liquids are available to treat nail biting, and though they are odorless and colorless, they have a rancid, bitter taste that provides a very potent reminder not to bite your nails. Acetone (nail polish remover) and vanilla extract are suitable alternatives for dipping your fingertips. For the best results, solutions should be reapplied every time you wash your hands, as well as whenever they begin to wear off. Changing types of coatings periodically will insure that you do not become accustomed to the taste and continue the habit.

How you maintain your nails can affect whether or not you bite them. Clipping your fingernails very short and keeping them smooth prevents you from nibbling simply because there isn't anything there to nibble on. Likewise, getting a professional manicure or otherwise taking extraordinary pains to insure your nails look fabulous will make you less likely to bite them, which would ruin your efforts.

Different types of nail polish can also help you beat the nail biting habit. Noticeable bright or dark colors may make you less inclined to bite your nails, because as the polish chips and breaks, it emphasizes how terrible your nails look. Furthermore, noticeable colors are more likely to be visible as small flecks on your teeth, creating potential embarrassment and making you even more eager to stop biting your fingernails. Using a strengthening or hardening nail polish will not only discourage you from biting your nails, but it also helps improve them so they do not chip or crack easily, making it less convenient to begin biting them in the first place.

Another physical remedy for nail biting is to replace one habit with another. Keep gum or hard candy in a convenient place, and whenever you are tempted to bite your nails, snack on a piece instead. This will help your habit by mimicking the jaw movements without endangering your nails. Using a stress ball or worry stone to turn over in your hands can also be effective, because occupied fingers are less likely to end up in your mouth. You might even consider a hobby, such as rug hooking, sketching, or writing to occupy your hands.

Even after you have beaten the fingernail biting habit, you should continue to care for your nails meticulously. Keep a nail file, clippers, and small scissors handy to treat emergency chips, splits, or hangnails so you are not tempted to use your teeth for minor repairs. That seemingly innocent maneuver could easily restart the habit you have fought so hard to break.

It may take a combination of both mental and physical techniques to permanently break a nail biting habit. With encouragement and perseverance, however, new habits can develop that preserve beautiful nails, boosting your self confidence so you are ready to shake hands, wave, and show off your perfect manicure.

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