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We all know what a nasty habit nail-biting is. To start, it makes your nails look ragged and ugly. But what’s worse, the area under your nail is one of the dirtiest spots on your body, as dirt, germs and bacteria get trapped underneath – and you’re sticking it in your mouth.
That said, the habit can be very difficult to break – but it can be done! We’ve talked with experts to come up with 7 tips that have been very effective in help people like you kick that nail-biting habit!
1. Get Acrylic Nails
It may seem to defeat the purpose, but it’s been shown that having acrylic tips discourages the nail biting urge. Have your fake nails put on professionally, and they’ll be safe for your natural nails, too.
2. Find A Buddy System
Do you have a friend who also bites his or her nails? Form a “No Nail Nibbling” team to support each other. Having someone to share your goals and hold you accountable is a great way to succeed in any challenge – nail biting is no different.
Another advantage of having a “quitting partner” is that you can share tips that you’ve learned to use to keep your fingers away from your mouth. After all, if one of you finds a strategy that works, it may work well for others too!
3. Put On Gloves
Gloves obviously block you from having access to your nails, so it’s a very effective way to stop nail biting. Of course, it’s not always very convenient to wear gloves around, so wear them when you’re home, watching TV or in other situations when you typically find yourself unconsciously biting your nails.
Because you’re blocked from biting your nails, you’ll stop trying without even thinking about it. Over time, the connection in your brain will be broken – and you won’t be biting your nails even when you take the gloves off.
Any gloves you like will work, but if you’re busy, try using a pair of rubber gloves like doctors use. They’re thin and sensitive, allowing you to do just about anything you normally would, like use the computer, read or eat.
4. Get A Professional Manicure
Getting a professional manicure can be a great reminder for you to avoid biting your nails. After all, they look so pretty – and the manicure wasn’t free, either, so you definite don’t want to mess it up by chewing on it.
A visit to the manicurist once or twice a month can really do the trick if you’re trying to stop your nail biting habit.
5. Keep Your Nails Polished
Even if you don’t visit the manicurist regularly, you can get a similar result by polishing your nails yourself. Pick a pretty color and spend the time to do them right; you’ll naturally want to keep them looking nice. And maintain it – if you let the polish get chipped or worn looking, it loses the effect.
6. Find A Distraction
Many people have been able to beat the nail-biting habit by finding a distraction or substitute. If you can keep your hands busy, they won’t be as likely to wander up to your mouth.
Stress balls are one typical sort of distraction; keeping your hand busy squeezing the little foam ball whenever you have the compulsion to bite your nails. If you’ve got an urge to put something in your mouth, try a stick of gum, or keep a baggie of carrot and celery sticks around. By keeping your mouth and hands occupied, you’ll break the urge for biting your nails.
7. Seek Treatment
For some people, nail biting is more than a nuisance, it’s a serious problem. They bite nails until they bleed, have actually lost nails or caused permanent damage to the nail bed. If this sounds like you, you should consider seeking medical help.
Nail biting goes by the medical term “onychophagia,” and is one of the many behaviors that can be part of an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If you believe your nail biting may be because of OCD, you should consult with your doctor; therapy and medication may be appropriate. Drugs like Paxil and Zoloft have been effective for helping people get these compulsions under control.
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