How To Stop Biting Your Nails

Obsessive Compulsive Behaviors

In my career, I've met so many people biting their nails.  They told me that they've tried almost everything from wearing bitter nail polish to wearing fake nails.  Even though some of these things might have worked for some individuals, just like wearing fakes nails did help some people stop biting his/her nails, in some careers, women cannot wear fake nails.

As I've observed and talked to many nails biters and cuticle pickers, they have something else in common.  Most of these people appear to have obsessive compulsive behaviors.

An example of obsessive compulsive behavior is someone who is very clean and neat around their house.  Everything has to be in its place.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, can be out of place.  Their house is spotless.  Not even a block toy is permitted to lie around on the floor.  Beyond obsessively cleaning they also tend to obsessively chew on their nails and pick at their cuticles.

To get the house clean and neat, this person likes to move around the house cleaning or picking up things all the time.  What happens to the hands when you're using and washing them all the time?  They get worn out.  In this case, the hands get dry and look badly. You'll see hang nails, dry cuticles, maybe some calluses, and jagged looking nails.  A person with obsessive compulsive behavior, gets stressed, nervous, and frustrated; they'll pick at them or put them in their mouth.  They cannot stand the house looking messy, and they cannot stand looking at their rough hands either.  One thing about the hang nails and dry cuticles, the more you pick at them, the worse they get. 

The following routines are important to keep up with; they are all interchangeable.  You used your hands everyday and all day long; therefore, they do require many ways to keep them in good shape.

  • Get manicures. I suggest nails biters go get manicures, as often as 2 times a month.  When I was in nails school, the book mentioned every ten days, which is 3 times a month.  However, in my career, most people getting manicures twice a month is sufficient, unless you are one of those people who have very thick cuticles.  Manicures will help get rid off the excess cuticles that interfere with your healthy nails.  The extra cuticles growing on your fingers most likely cause the hangnails or split cuticles.  Thus, cleaning and trimming them will maintain your hands to looking neat and attractive.

    I'm not saying you have to get professional manicures; you can do your own manicures.  For some people, giving yourself manicures is not adequate, especially since you still put your fingers in your mouth and bite your cuticles.  Thus, it might be worthwhile to make trips to the nail salon to get it done professionally.  These people have been trained and they know what they doing.   You have been working so hard every day at work and at home.  You deserve to be pampered by someone else skilled in nail care.

  • Moisturize your cuticles and hands daily in the evening. It's important to keep your hands moisturized because you are always using your hands.  In fact, you wash your hands 5 to 10 times a day.  In some careers, people wash their hands much more than that.  However, washing and using your hands all day wears off the lotions that you put on.  Thus, some people still do experience dry cuticles.  Therefore, I suggest also doing them at night time. 

    Every night when you get in bed, make sure you apply some cuticle oil on all the cuticles, and then put hand cream on your hands.  Make sure they are air dry before you lie down to sleep.  As long as you are sleeping, they will moisturize your cuticles and hands throughout the night.  Moisturizing will keep the hands from becoming over dry, and less likely for you to see hang nails.  Less hang nails, less likely for you to put the fingers in your mouth.  The cuticle oil also keeps the nails moisturized and less likely for your nails to be brittle, thus, less likely for your nails to be peeling, chipping, and breaking off.

  • Keep the cuticles pushed back at least every couple days. It is very important for nail biters to keep their cuticles pushed back with gentle strokes, and don't let the cuticles crawling half way on your nails.  When you push them, they are most likely to stand up, and you'll put your fingers in your mouth.  Thus I encourage individuals to do parts one and two, i.e. do the manicures and do the moisturizers.
  • No nail polish (Not just colors, including clear & French manicure). Now, everybody has a sad face when I suggest this.  Every woman loves to wear nail polish; almost every woman thinks nail polish helps their nails get strong and makes their hands look good.  They forget that nail polish does not stay on your real nails.  Nails polish only stays on your real nails about three days. When you are a nail biter, you don't need to see chipped nail polish, which make your nails look rough.  Thus, most likely you will put the fingers in your mouth again.  Another reason I suggest no nail polish is because nail polish damages your nails.  Especially colored nail polish, it will stain your nails.

    People with obsessive compulsive behaviors have to have everything looking clean and neat.  If you follow all the above suggestions, you will have beautiful and healthy hands/nails.  Now, we all agree beauty follows health.  So if we have healthy hands/nails, we will have beautiful hands/nails.  And if your hands/nails healthy and beautiful, you will be less likely to pick or bite them.

Additional Suggestions:   

I don't mean that women should not ever wear nail polish.  I'm suggesting keeping the nail polish away from daily routines.  Whenever there is a special occasion, you can still wear nail polish.  The color you wear will match the outfits, shoes, and purse that you are wearing on that occasion.  Nail polish will add the fancy and elegance to your looks.  Take off the nail polish after the special occasion, and then it won't stain or damage your nails.  Think of nail polish like extra make-up that you don't need.  Men don't wear make-up and they don't look ugly.  We, women, are accustomed to seeing make-up on our faces, thus we think that we'll look ugly without make-up.  Same theory happens in nail polish. We think our hands look poorly when we don't have them polished.  Think of Cinderella getting ready for the Ball.

Even if you are not a cuticle picker or a nail biter, I hope you try to do all of the routines.  Keeping up with these routines will help your hands and cuticles to be healthy and looking good all the time.  Just like brushing your teeth is part of a daily personal hygiene.  There are no products out there that can replace you brushing your own teeth; same as you need to maintain your hands.  There are many products out there to help you with your hands; however, there are no products that are good enough to replace the maintenance to help your hands looking healthy and attractive.

To help children stop biting their nails:

Parents can maintain your children's hands by frequently keeping their hands scrubbed and clean.  It's okay to let them play like all other children, but keep their hands clean and neat looking afterward is very necessary.  Children who bite their nails usually don't like what they see on their hands.  Here is some extra advices for parents to help their children hands and nails looking neat all the time, so they are less likely put their fingers in the mouth.

  1. Have your children wash their hands frequently.
  2. Trim their fingernails short (not too short), and keep them looking neat and clean.
  3. Lotion their hands a couple times a day and one more at night time before they go to sleep.
  4. Award or compliment (words of encouragement) them when they come to you when they have hangnails or jagged nails.
  5. Keep a nail file or an emery board in your purse at all times.
  6. Treat your child to a professional manicure every now and then to help encouragement.

Maintaining a clean and neat hands not only helps children stop biting their nails, but most likely helps them prevent getting sick (cold/flu).  The earlier age we help children quit biting their fingernails, the easier it will be for them to stop this nasty habit as an adult.


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