How to stop biting your nails

How to stop biting your nails

Some adults and kids can’t seem to help biting their nails, especially when they’re nervous. But it’s not a healthy habit… and can make hands look unsightly and ragged.

It may soothe nerves, but biting nails (onychophagia) is an unhealthy way to do it. There are germs under your fingernails, and biting them may cause germs to be ingested. Biting can also cause an infection underneath the nails.

Quick facts

• Almost a third of children between 7 and 10 bite their nails. In adolescence, it’s 44%
• 19-29% of young adults are nail-biters
• 5% of adults don’t outgrow the habit
• Nail biting is more common among young males

How to stop nail biting

  1. Try to break the habit by keeping your hands busy. Squeeze a stress ball while watching TV for example, or take up knitting or crochet! Adult colouring will keep both hands busy and away from your mouth. For children, try any toy that will keep hands busy when they’re likely to bite, like a Rubik’s cube.
  2. Paint your nails with a nail-biter’s solution, available from your pharmacy.
  3. Chew sugar-free gum to give your mouth something else to do.
  4. Try a gel manicure. It’ll cover your nails as they grow out and help stop you biting. If budget is a problem, do a proper home manicure – you wouldn’t want all that hard work to go to waste. Read how to make a mani last here.
  5. If nail-biting is due to stress, experiment with other ways to relax, and replace the bad habit with a good one.
Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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