Breaking a bad habit

by Jessie K on February 20, 2013

467e5fa7545ecdcafb08ec71556ed273Did you know nail biting is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorders like skin picking and hoarding? This, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the bible of psychology journals.

I’ve been a nail biter my entire life! I came by it honestly; my mom is a biter. I used to be really bad with it in my teens and 20s, but I’ve eased off somewhat once I identified my triggers and taken steps to head them off at the pass. I have determined I bite my nails when I write. Um, bummer for me? But I noticed I don’t do it as much, if at all, if I keep a pair of clippers and a file with me at all times because it’s the raggedy edges of a nail that compels me to want to chew (how gross is that?). It’s an attempt to smooth out the rough edges, I guess. Hmmm, what would the docs at the biblical psychology journal make of that? If my nails are smooth and trim, I don’t feel compelled to bite.

I bang my head against the keyboard instead.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen S. February 20, 2013 at 10:36 am


I have the exact same problem. I don’t bite my nails when they’re kept smooth, but once one gets a jagged edge or gets too long, I try to just smooth it out and end up messing up half my nails in an effort to even them out. My mother is also a nail biter, so that’s where I get it too. That’s interesting that nail biting is OCD. It unfortunately doesn’t surprise me, though. Some days I feel like I’m just one box of crap away from a Hoarders episode. Which is why I’m also inspired by your commitment to purge and not buy. So far, so good.

sarina February 20, 2013 at 11:51 am


I read one time that nail biters and skin picking was when we are trying to rid ourselves of imperfections.. I do both unfortunately and find that the more stressed I am.. the worse I do it… Like I can’t control things around me.. but I can control that hang nail durn it!

One product that helps me not bite is nailtek extra.. It seems to make my nails really strong.. which means they don’t shred or split as easily.. making them less of a target for biting. Also, the act of painting my nails can act as a distraction from the urge.

Molly O February 20, 2013 at 1:27 pm


I had to do the exact same thing, keep a file and clippers with me at all times, to break my nail/finger picking habit! I’ve found though after years of carrying them around that I don’t feel nearly as obsessive over my fingers and nails as I used to. Now sometimes I dare to leave the house without them!

WendyP February 20, 2013 at 4:09 pm


I’ve been able to do a little better leaving snags & ragged edges alone since I found that I can use my jeans as a sort-of nail file. If the snag or ragged edge isn’t too bad, I can rub it along my pant leg and work out some of the worst of the snag. It’s usually enough that I can leave it alone till I get home and can go after it with a proper nail file.

I’ve also heard the striking strip on a matchbook or box will work as a coarse nail file, but who carries matchbooks anymore?

Janelle February 20, 2013 at 10:06 pm


You are funny. Hope the bruises won’t show too badly.
I used to bite my nails too until I kept clippers everywhere I go (in the car, in my purse, next to my bed.) Now my nails are just fine. This took long to learn but I am still pleased to this day that I overcame this terrible habit.

Kat February 21, 2013 at 5:57 am


My mom ended my nail-biting by bribing me with the mail-order-only glitter My Little Pony set – there were 6 and every nail I bit, my sister got to pick one pony for herself. I only lost 1. But, I’m a horrible cuticle/hangnail picker and biter in the winter. Never considered just keeping trimmers with me…will have to try it.

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