At its core biting your nails is unpleasant, unattractive and unhealthy. It is more common than most think, estimates suggest that around 25% of children are victims of this habit. In addition, it has been proposed that the majority of adulthood nail biting problems begun during childhood.
In public it is usually considered socially unacceptable, the resulting fingers are unattractive and in more extreme cases people may bite until the point that blood is shed. However there may also be a health concern that is often overlooked. This habit can lead to a constant transfer of bacteria between your nails and mouth. Resulting in infection in the nail bed and even damage to the gums and teeth.
An obvious method to try and prevent someone from this ritual is to make them physically unable to do so. A simple way to achieve this is to wear cheap adhesive bandages or plasters around the top of your fingers. The purpose of this is to make the user incapable of biting their nails without removing the bandages, meaning if the user tries to bite their nails when bored or without fulling thinking, they will not be able to.
These bandages can be a highly effective way to combat the routine. The downside is that these bandages or plasters cannot be worn 24/7 - for example you may not want to wear them when going to a social occasion leaving the user vulnerable to nail biting at that point in time.
Often nail biting occurs subconsciously or when someone is bored and unaware that they are doing it. One solution which works for some people is to give yourself a distraction to do in these situations in order to prevent yourself. For example, chewing gum, twiddling thumbs or even keeping your hands in your pockets can provide enough stimulation for some to remove the urge.
Although this is a viable option for many, if it has already become a habit and is more severe it may not fully deal with the issue. Different things work for different people, but it is still a great idea to give it a try.
For a cheap price, usually only a few dollars, you can purchase nail inhibitor which can be extremely helpful in kicking this habit. The principle is that you apply a horrible tasting product to your fingertips to deter you from biting them. This is so effective as it not only stops the user from biting but can also remove the habit completely as the thought of it becomes associated with the terrible taste.
If nails biting has become a custom that is hard to remove, many people who struggled to combat the habit for years have found such products extremely successful. The only setbacks are that it requires you to regularly re-apply the product and if you are eating with your fingers it can make the food taste terrible as well. Moreover, nail inhibitor is an outstanding way to kick this habit for good and if you can look past the minor cons it is highly recommended.
One Nail at a Time
A more specific technique to quit is to start by picking one nail that you are not going to allow yourself to bite. You still allow yourself to bite all of your nails apart from that particular one you have chosen, after a few days you will be able to see a significant difference in that nail compared to the rest. This should work as a reward to motivate you. Next you choose another nail to avoid biting so you have two nails that you do not allow yourself to bite. Then slowly, one nail at a time, you prevent yourself from biting all of them.
With this method it does get harder as you progress although hopefully the results will inspire you to continue. It does require lots of self control as you get further along so it may not be the best technique for everyone. But nevertheless I am sure many people can benefit from this method.
The Rubber Band Method
The goal of the rubber band method is to not only stop you biting your nails, but also stop you from wanting to. Although a little unusual, many nail biting addicts have found it very helpful for kicking their unpleasant habit. Here's what you do, wrap a thick wide rubber band around your wrist, then every time you catch yourself thinking about biting your nails snap the band on the inside of your wrist causing a small amount of pain. You will not do any serious or permanent damage to yourself and your brain will associate the negative habit with an unpleasant experience. Admittedly it may not be for everyone but for those willing to try it, it can be highly effective.
Breaking any long term habit is a lot of effort and never easy. It is important to stay focused and motivated on your goal and one way to aid the process is to keep a visual reminder of what you are trying to achieve. Some people find it helpful to keep a picture of healthy nails up on their wall or even carry it around with them as a constant reminder. Although this alone is unlikely to break your habit it can help aid other methods and serve an important role for some.
Once your nails begin to grow, it is important to take proper care of them. Using a nail clipper instead of biting them will not only look better, but also will not tempt you back to your old habit! For some, the cause of their nail biting is that they bite in order to try and make their nails look rounder and more aesthetically pleasing. However, the resulting nails will actually look better when using a nail clipper and there is no antisocial aspect or health risk involved. Using a nail file will also have the same effect here.
Moreover, whether you are a casual biter or someone who has been struggling with it for years, there are a variety of techniques and methods to aid you. One cause for nail biting could be stress or anxiety, try to take a small pause or break in your day in order to relax. With a combination of the methods above and some dedication I believe it is possible for even the hardcore nail biters to quit their habits and enjoy a nail biting free life.