22 votes

Former nail biters --- how did you quit?

I'm sitting here reading about Jeremy Renner's failed app and new Amazon store and filing my nails down. I've mostly stopped biting, but I still do every so often.

So if you've quit, how the hell did you do it? The bad tasting nail polish stuff doesn't taste bad enough for me... is there an Allen Carr for biters?

29 comments

  1. [5]
    NaraVara
    Link
    So what worked for me was keeping nail clippers everywhere. In the living room, by my bedside, at my desk at work, etc. Any time I noticed I had any amount of nail I clipped it down as low as...

    So what worked for me was keeping nail clippers everywhere. In the living room, by my bedside, at my desk at work, etc.

    Any time I noticed I had any amount of nail I clipped it down as low as possible without hurting myself. Eventually the habit kind of went away (after about 2-3 months) because my teeth could never find purchase.

    The downside, of course, is whoever you share space with will hate you for clipping your nails everywhere.

    For me it happened pretty smoothly, but if the habit is harder for you to crack you might also want to give yourself an alternative impulse to lean into instead. Something like rolling your shoulders in your seat to adjust posture or something.

    One of the things that helped me actually commit though was a comment from a dentist. “Nails always grow back, teeth don’t once you wear them down.”

    12 votes
    1. JakeTheDog
      Link Parent
      Oh god, I didn't know about this until right now. I'm quitting ASAP.

      One of the things that helped me actually commit though was a comment from a dentist. “Nails always grow back, teeth don’t once you wear them down.”

      Oh god, I didn't know about this until right now. I'm quitting ASAP.

      4 votes
    2. tomf
      Link Parent
      yeah, keeping clippers and a files around has helped quite a bit. I'm trying to find the next step. I considered getting fake nails for a time --- but as a dude, I think that would look weird.

      yeah, keeping clippers and a files around has helped quite a bit. I'm trying to find the next step. I considered getting fake nails for a time --- but as a dude, I think that would look weird.

      1 vote
    3. Loire
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Seconding this one. I kept a pair of clippers around and trimmed my nails down to the flesh every day or two. Within a couple of months I could let them grow a bit longer without relapsing. For...

      Seconding this one. I kept a pair of clippers around and trimmed my nails down to the flesh every day or two. Within a couple of months I could let them grow a bit longer without relapsing.

      For some reason I still bite my thumb nails now but my fingers can grow out to any length without issue.

      1 vote
    4. lugubris
      Link Parent
      I wish someone could stop me earlier, both my canines [0] are little short and not straight. I am pretty sure it was because of my nail biting habit. [0] ->...

      One of the things that helped me actually commit though was a comment from a dentist. “Nails always grow back, teeth don’t once you wear them down.”

      I wish someone could stop me earlier, both my canines [0] are little short and not straight. I am pretty sure it was because of my nail biting habit.

      [0] -> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Teeth_diagram.png

  2. [2]
    vakieh
    Link
    There exist substances known to science that will prevent anyone from licking or biting no matter how much they might want to. I would suggest looking into acquiring one of these sorts of...

    The bad tasting nail polish stuff

    There exist substances known to science that will prevent anyone from licking or biting no matter how much they might want to. I would suggest looking into acquiring one of these sorts of substances and dipping your fingers in it. Downside is they probably all smell terrible and will be toxic, but give it a month and the habit will be broken.

    8 votes
    1. Thunder-ten-tronckh
      Link Parent
      Ah, the Clockwork Orange method. Just don't listen to Ludwig Van while conducting this therapy.

      Ah, the Clockwork Orange method. Just don't listen to Ludwig Van while conducting this therapy.

      4 votes
  3. [3]
    runtime
    Link
    Anyone else not bite their nails anymore, but the skin around the nails?

    Anyone else not bite their nails anymore, but the skin around the nails?

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      VoidOutput
      Link Parent
      I did that when I stopped biting my nails. Now that I've relapsed I do both...

      I did that when I stopped biting my nails. Now that I've relapsed I do both...

      4 votes
      1. bbvnvlt
        Link Parent
        Same! But I've now stopped picking my cuticles too. I'd been trying for years. My partner getting super annoyed and telling me off when I picked them didn't help. What jolted me into having the...

        Same!

        But I've now stopped picking my cuticles too. I'd been trying for years. My partner getting super annoyed and telling me off when I picked them didn't help. What jolted me into having the self-control to stop is this:

        We're having our first kid in a week or 2. A month or 2 back, I was at my brother's. He picks his cuticles, too. And so does his son, I noticed. "Copied from his father", my sister-in-law said. That put me over the edge. I do not want to pass it on.

        2 votes
  4. actionscripted
    Link
    I got braces. I couldn't chew on 'em like I had been, so I had no choice but to quit.

    I got braces. I couldn't chew on 'em like I had been, so I had no choice but to quit.

    3 votes
  5. [3]
    welly
    Link
    I'd love to know this too. I've not come even close to stopping. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it's not the worst habit to have. At least it's not smack. But I'd rather not do it. I had...

    I'd love to know this too. I've not come even close to stopping. I suppose in the grand scheme of things it's not the worst habit to have. At least it's not smack. But I'd rather not do it. I had hypnotherapy which worked for a little while but somehow got back into the habit after a few months.

    2 votes
    1. tomf
      Link Parent
      Hypnotherapy seems crazy to me — bit of it works (even short term), I’m game. For me, I hate the feeling of longer nails — but a few weeks ago I had a longer nail (not pinky) and I was so proud of...

      Hypnotherapy seems crazy to me — bit of it works (even short term), I’m game.

      For me, I hate the feeling of longer nails — but a few weeks ago I had a longer nail (not pinky) and I was so proud of it. I eventually snipped it off and felt disproportionately ashamed.

      1 vote
    2. SourceContribute
      Link Parent
      It's still an anti-social habit. The problem for me is that it's stress and nervousness and of course nail-biting = outward sign of that stress which is even more stressful when I'm aware of it....

      It's still an anti-social habit. The problem for me is that it's stress and nervousness and of course nail-biting = outward sign of that stress which is even more stressful when I'm aware of it.

      Lower stress seems to be the real trick to get rid of the nail-biting habit.

      1 vote
  6. [2]
    Kom
    Link
    I've been trying to stop for the longest time, I get worse if I'm anxious. So far the only thing that has had any sort of progress is setting myself small goals to achieve. Say one day I'll be...

    I've been trying to stop for the longest time, I get worse if I'm anxious. So far the only thing that has had any sort of progress is setting myself small goals to achieve.

    Say one day I'll be more aware of what I'm doing and try to stop myself for an hour. If that works I'll go another hour. So far the best I've done is a week then unfortunately lost it and all that healing / work went to shit. The last few days I've actually noticed my hands aren't as bad as they normally are so I'll be using moisturiser twice a day in the hope that if my skin isn't dry I will be able to resist.

    2 votes
    1. bbvnvlt
      Link Parent
      I went trough a lot of failed 'stops' as well. I graduated from a day to a few days, to a week or more before falling off the wagon. I think it helps (and is correct) to frame these not as...

      I went trough a lot of failed 'stops' as well. I graduated from a day to a few days, to a week or more before falling off the wagon. I think it helps (and is correct) to frame these not as failures but as successes. Stopping bad habits is often talked about in a binary way, as if there is only complete success and utter failure.

      So keep at it! You're getting better at stopping bit by bit :)

      1 vote
  7. GreaterPorpoise
    Link
    It might help to figure out why or when you do it. In my case, it was a twisted sense of perfectionism to compulsively "fix" how my nails looked, dating back to even before I can remember. When I...

    It might help to figure out why or when you do it. In my case, it was a twisted sense of perfectionism to compulsively "fix" how my nails looked, dating back to even before I can remember.

    When I figured that out, I started clipping my nails short and regularly after a shower (when it's easiest to do), and keeping clippers on hand for hangnails and such when they pop up. This way there's less to fix, a proper tool to fix things if there is, and thus, nothing to bite (not easily or painless, anyway). After that, my subconscious started to clock that biting makes things worse, not better and that helped overcome the other urge to bite them idly.

    Alas, I replaced the nailbiting with new idle habits, picking at other perceived imperfections and physical flaws in my skin or hair. The perfectionism is still there, which makes sense. Underlying urges, motives, anxieties, are always going to be harder and slower to change than the surface coping mechanisms and outlets for that nervous/idle energy.

    2 votes
  8. JamesTeaKirk
    Link
    I've been keeping a rubber band around my wrist. It's a constant reminder and if I forget and notice myself biting I'll snap it against my wrist. This has been working for me and my nails have...

    I've been keeping a rubber band around my wrist. It's a constant reminder and if I forget and notice myself biting I'll snap it against my wrist. This has been working for me and my nails have slowly started growing back.

    2 votes
  9. Shahriar
    Link
    Slowly grew out of it in high school. Paid more attention to my appearance and realized that the broken skin and nails don't look so pretty. Now when I get pruney fingers you can't see a difference!

    Slowly grew out of it in high school. Paid more attention to my appearance and realized that the broken skin and nails don't look so pretty. Now when I get pruney fingers you can't see a difference!

    2 votes
  10. [2]
    NeoTheFox
    Link
    I just bought a nail clipper and I always have it with me now. If I see my nails growing bigger I would just excuse myself and go somewhere to clip them. For me the length was the trigger, as in...

    I just bought a nail clipper and I always have it with me now. If I see my nails growing bigger I would just excuse myself and go somewhere to clip them. For me the length was the trigger, as in if I see my nails being longer than I would want I would have a compulsion to bite them, but if I have a clipper I can satisfy it without biting.

    2 votes
    1. tomf
      Link Parent
      nice! either that or a nail file is perfect for getting those edges down. I find clipping to be far more satisfying, though :)

      nice! either that or a nail file is perfect for getting those edges down. I find clipping to be far more satisfying, though :)

      1 vote
  11. krg
    Link
    I don't know that I made a conscious effort to stop, but I don't nail bite anymore. However, I do pick the shit out of my cuticles...which is probably worse.

    I don't know that I made a conscious effort to stop, but I don't nail bite anymore. However, I do pick the shit out of my cuticles...which is probably worse.

    1 vote
  12. [7]
    Kom
    Link
    tomf, how are you coming along? I wanted to update because your post has made me try and stop again. This time I've been really giving it my all it's the beginning of day 3 and at times it feels...

    tomf, how are you coming along? I wanted to update because your post has made me try and stop again. This time I've been really giving it my all it's the beginning of day 3 and at times it feels like bugs are crawling in my brain when I feel the urge to bite / pick at my cuticles but each time I catch myself about to I stop then say out loud "you don't need to do that" and "stop. you have gone (whatever time frame I'm up to)" it's fucking hard I won't lie.

    But I've made a huge step forward, my hands don't hurt, they aren't torn to shit and are starting to show sings of healing. Thank you for making this post. It made more difference than you know.

    1 vote
    1. [6]
      tomf
      Link Parent
      haha. Thanks for checking in! Lets check the progress 0 ██ 10 A little better. Biting less, but filing more! It's great that you've joined the 'stop biting' club, though! Eventually we'll be...

      haha. Thanks for checking in! Lets check the progress

      0 ██                     10
      

      A little better. Biting less, but filing more! It's great that you've joined the 'stop biting' club, though! Eventually we'll be picking stickers off of things, undoing knots... and... well, doing stuff that people with nails can do with ease.

      I've heard it helps to get a pro manicure once your nails are on the right track -- something subconscious about not wanting to destroy the investment.

      It's so difficult, though. I really hate having nails for some sick reason. Chances are I wouldn't hate them if they were shaped properly.

      Let's keep on this path, though! If we can break this habit, we can basically do anything :)

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        Kom
        Link Parent
        I feel the same way, seeing that little bit of growth drives me nuts... But it's something we both need to get used to. I've even thought about letting my girls paint my nails lol only problem is...

        I feel the same way, seeing that little bit of growth drives me nuts... But it's something we both need to get used to.

        I've even thought about letting my girls paint my nails lol only problem is being a guy I'll have more questions to answer. But that gets shut down fairly quickly when you say "my daughter's did it. Also it's stopping me from biting" Then the other issue is work, nurses aren't meant to paint their nails... I might just say stuff it it's only while I break this damn habit.

        1 vote
        1. [4]
          tomf
          Link Parent
          ha. you could get them to do a clear coat --- but yeah, not for work. I might actually do the clear thing. That would feel awful to bite. You can pretty much get away with anything under the guise...

          ha. you could get them to do a clear coat --- but yeah, not for work. I might actually do the clear thing. That would feel awful to bite.

          You can pretty much get away with anything under the guise of, 'my kids did this' :)

          1 vote
          1. [3]
            Kom
            Link Parent
            The nurse who gave handover this afternoon had press on nails, so if she can get away with it why can't I? if they ask I'll tell them why. I know we have a giant bag of nail polish, but would you...

            The nurse who gave handover this afternoon had press on nails, so if she can get away with it why can't I? if they ask I'll tell them why.

            I know we have a giant bag of nail polish, but would you believe none are clear lol I think I've bought them every colour known to man and a few that aren't. It's also something they have been asking to do for the longest time and I've told them work is an issue.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              tomf
              Link Parent
              and really, nobody will even notice clear polish. I might get some tonight --- this could be the latest trend in high fashion.

              and really, nobody will even notice clear polish. I might get some tonight --- this could be the latest trend in high fashion.

              2 votes
              1. Kom
                Link Parent
                So we might be trend setters? That sounds kinda cool lol

                So we might be trend setters? That sounds kinda cool lol

                1 vote