How to Stop Nail Biting (A Comprehensive Guide)

Nail-biting is a habit of most of the people around us, we may observe others biting their nails and unintentionally bite our nails.

This habit of nail-biting is called onychophagy. Oneco is a scientific word for nails and phagy means “to eat”. 

This habit is very contagious and people usually learn it from others.

People while talking, listening to a song, during a meeting unknowingly find themselves biting their nails, they never know that they are doing it.

It looks as if people have developed this habit from a close friend, family member, or teacher or through observation but in reality, there are deep psychological roots of nail-biting.

A person may have some psychological issues which lead them to nail-biting.

Many psychologists have worked on the history of nail biter which has revealed many interesting facts about the development of this habit.

In this article, we will discuss how to stop nail-biting.

Any habit if remains for a shorter period of time and does not get harmful for the keeper then it is ok to let go of such habits but if such habits persist and become physically harmful for the person who is doing it, it alarming.

Alarming to an extent that needs to see a psychologist becomes inevitable. Nails are non-living cells who protect sensitive parts of fingers present on toe tips if fingers.

Nail is dead proteins as the hand is a tool to perform any function so nails get involved in every activity of human beings and attract microbes.

Nail-biting besides being a psychological issue it is a very big issue for human health.

Human stomach disorders are also related to nail-biting. Nail-biting gives them stress relief and makes them forget their pain or confusion.

It makes people relax and subsides the tension confusion and anxiety, they seek pleasure in it that is why people do nail-biting.

Let’s learn how to stop nail biting. 

How to Stop Nail Biting: How serious is this issue?

This issue can be very serious if remain unchecked.

Initially, it is very much normal to do such a thing in the absent-minded state but as soon as it gets persistent for a long time it can cause a problem.

People usually don’t take notice of their surroundings and seriousness of the situation they keep on biting their nails.

Initially people take one or two bites but then get addicted and remove the upper part of the nail, but this addiction goes so deep that they keep on eating and their skin states to bleed.

They usually don’t feel pain until someone stops them from doing it.

The reason behind nail-biting varies from person to person. They can only one or multiple reasons behind nail-biting.

The following are a few serious and most authentic reasons behind nail-biting. 

How to Stop Nail Biting: Causes of nail-biting

  1. Boredom: 

People usually get bored on different occasions and chew their nails, during a conversation, during movies, during the meeting, and anywhere in the park.

We observe many people biting their nails and they are usually unaware of their surroundings most importantly unaware of what they are doing. 

  1. Anxiety:

Nail-biting is usually related to anxiety and stress, people having stress or problematic thinking bite their nails.

Anyone who is observing them can see stress or tension on their face.

Anxious people usually feel relaxed and less stressed after doing chewing nails, so this habit persists in them. 

  1. Fear:

People chew their nails out of fear, people bite nails while watching horror movies or if they feel fear of something.

Fear of bad weather, fear of storm, and fear of darkness or any other animal or traveling make people bite nails and it looks as if they have lost self-control. 

Fear makes them behave like a fool and unintentionally they start biting their nails. 

  1. Childhood fixation:

According to a famous psychologist Sigmund Freud, if some desires remain unfulfilled in childhood they cause problems in the habits of adults.

He called them fixations, nail-biting is also linked with childhood fixation, it is said that children who did not have bathroom training usually shoe nail-biting habits or smoking habit or any habit which include oral activity.

People who come with severe nail-biting habits usually find the root of this habit in childhood fixation.

Psychologists tracebacks their history and try to solve the issue.

  1.  Hungry  people bite nails:

It is a common observation that people who are hungry and waiting for food they start to bite nails.

People within restaurants or at home on dining tables seen biting their nails.

This habit can be related to nail-biting.

While some people can’t eat anything when they are anxious, others tend to eat more. Either way, snacks are something a lot more palatable than a full fledged meal when you’re worked up.

If you’re looking for snack options that can help manage anxiety, here are the Best Snacks for Anxiety.

  1. Loneliness:

Lonely people while sitting alone or thinking alone unintentionally start to cut their nails.

Deep engrossed in their thoughts they cut them without having awareness of doing it.

Nailbiter is mostly over-thinkers and lonely. 

  1. Confusion: 

Confusion usually gives birth to such habits.

Students while solving problems, people during complicated conversations, while shopping or choosing between different options or having a decision, usually chew their nails.

Confused personalities usually develop this habit later on in life without any psychological background of such habits. 

  1. Nervousness and Anxiousness 

People cut nails due to nervousness as well, while waiting for something, during eams, before exams and before results people are seen doing this nail-biting.

Anxiousness and nervousness both cause them to chew their nails, it is a momentary reaction to the situation at times but it can become persistent.

People usually develop this habit and at every nervous moment, they find refuge in this. 

How to Stop Nail Biting: How to cure it 

 There are many ways to cure it completely without any serious attention to the patients.

The following are a few ways to control the nail-biting habit.

  1. By developing self-control (How to stop nail biting): 

By developing self-control, a person must realize what he/she is doing, and then they should try themselves to solve the problem.

Self-control can be developed through addressing the issue to themselves and subsiding the wish to bite the nails.

It is the very easy and comprehendible solution to the nail-biting that the culprit himself/herself changes the habit.  

  1. By refraining them again and again (How to stop nail biting):

If someone is observing others biting their nails then they must stop them immediately so that doer gets a glimpse of his habit.

We must refrain nail-bitter again and again so that they must refrain from the insistence of others.

In order to obey other people can stop such harmful habits.

Elders, friends, and family members can play their part in this context. It is the easiest way to stop them from doing wrong with themselves.

  1. By fixing their problem (How to stop nail biting):

Nail bitters have some psychological issues, once these issues are discussed they can quit this habit.

The purpose of the discussion should be so that they come out of their childhood fixation or at least some could trace the root cause of this habit. 

Some people adopt this habit from observing, some have nervousness, confusion, loneliness problems.

After having a thorough discussion about the issue we should help them fix their problem and should stay with them in their hard time.

By fixing their problem this habit can be controlled.  

  1. By highlighting this habit (How to stop nail biting): 

Nail bitter are usually unaware of the intensity and extent of their habit, one must highlight this issue to them so that they refrain from doing it.

By highlighting the habit one can make them aware and conscious about nail-biting every time they start it, others should stop them or ask them to check it by themselves.       

  1. By telling them the side effects of nail-biting (How to stop nail biting):

People who bite their nails can be relieved from nail biting by telling them the side effects of nail-biting.

Side effects like stomach disorder, bacterial infection, or serious injury to finger must be discussed.

One can leave this habit by knowing the bad impact of it. 

  1. By giving them attention (How to stop nail biting):

As nail-biting emerges out of loneliness and nervousness and confusion or some childhood problem so such people can be treated with a bit of attention.

They usually quit their habit after knowing that someone is constantly watching over them.

Continuous surveillance can make them conscious of this habit.

Attention can anyone better and if a small habit has emerged out of lack of attention so this habit can be cured through attention as well. 

  1. By consulting a psychologist (How to stop nail biting):

In severe cases where none of the help work then these people should visit a psychologist.

Above mentioned help is enough to get rid of this habit but few people take it ti another level and harm themselves through their habit.

Such people definitely need psychological help.

Self-harm is the last stage of this habit so anyone around these people should advise them to visit a psychologist.

How to Stop Nail Biting: How can it be cured in how much time it can be cured?

It can be cured through the will of that respective person who does nail-biting.

How much time it would take that again depends upon the person if he is willing few days to a week is enough to overcome this habit otherwise people can prolong small habits for years and make them hard for themselves to leave such habits. 


Thus, there are many ways to teach how to stop nail biting. On conclusive remarks, it is imperative to say that “excess of everything is bad” any habit let alone nail-biting if exceed its limits results in a harmful issue.

Nail-biting is apparently a very naïve and simple thing but it has very deep issues underneath if this habit goes unchecked by people around and nail biter himself things can get worse and worse.

But fortunately, there is always a way back from everything at any time so one can go back to being normal by simply controlling the urge to bite the nails.

Nail-biting is not a very serious issue but it can be the effect of many serious psychological issues.

This type of habit must never be ignored and there must be proper discussion over this habit so that nail biter gets better and through others’ attention and care.

Feelings that made him/her anxious, nervous, or confused should be eliminated or properly negotiated. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

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Online Therapy

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FAQS about How to stop nail biting

Nail-biting is a serious issue or not?

Nail-biting is not a very serious issue but if it remains unchecked it becomes a serious issue. 

Is it a psychological issue?

Deep roots of nail-biting are psychological but apparently it does not look like any psychological issue.

It looks like a cause of momentary habit. 

Can nail-biting be cured or not?

Yes, nail-biting can be cured as people usually develop self-control and refrain from nail-biting.

Do happy people usually bite their nails?

No, usually sad and lonely people bite their nails.

Happy people don’t bite their nail according to common observation.

Nailbiters are usually very well aware of their habits?

Nail biters are aware of their habit but this habit starts without their intention.

They feel something and start to bite their nails without any serious reason.


Nicole Pajer (2018): “12 Expert-Backed Tips To Help You Stop Biting Your Nails”