Nail Biting and Brittle Nail Remedies

Do You Bite Your Nails? Try These Tips to Quit!

January 18, 2019

These helpful remedies will keep you from biting your nails.

Penn State University

Take care of your hands and nails! Here are ways to deal with nail-biting habits and what to do when your nails are brittle. 

5 Nail-Biting Remedies

Nail-biting often starts in childhood, and can be an extremely hard habit to break. Here are some suggestions on how to quit.

  • It is said that the easiest way to stop biting your nails is to become more relaxed, as nail-biting is often associated with pressure, anxiety, or nervousness. See our remedies for stress and anxiety.
  • A physical reminder is to put sticky tape on each finger. By the time you chew through the tape, you probably will have worked off the impulse to chew your nails.
  • Put brightly colored polish on your nails. If you spend time caring for your nails, you’re less likely to want to bite them off.
  • Most people bite their nails subconsciously. To get yourself to think about what you’re doing, give yourself a small reward for every nail that grows long enough to cut.

10 Tips for Dealing With Brittle Nails

If you have nails that break easily, here are some tips. Only rarely is a disease or vitamin deficiency an issue, despite what you may read. (If your fingernails split, but the toenails are strong, then an external factor is the cause.) Usually, brittle nails are simply due to a lack of moisture. Brittle nails are worse in winter when there is low humidity and dry heat indoors.

  • Nails become more brittle from constant wetting and drying. Don’t wash dishes with your bare hands. Wear dry, cotton-lined rubber gloves, available at most drugstores.
  • Drink plenty of water. If you’re dry, your nails will be.
  • Apply lotions containing alpha-hydroxy acids or lanolin containing lotions such as “Elon” to the nails after first soaking nails in water for 5 minutes.
  • Some fingernail polishes contain formaldehyde, which can irritate skin and nails. If you think your polish is causing problems, switch to a polish that doesn’t contain formaldehyde, or avoid polish altogether.
  • Biotin (a vitamin) taken by mouth is beneficial if you have a year-round issue. It takes at least 6 months, but does really help at least ⅓ of the time. (Do not take this if you are pregnant.)
  • Eat Jell-O. Seriously, gelatin helps many people (though not as reliable as Biotin). Or you can mix your favorite flavor of Jell-O and drink it while it’s still warm, if you don’t feel like waiting to refrigerate it. Calcium also helps some people.
  • Keep a natural nail shape. Round the tips in a gentle curve. File in the same direction as the nail grows and not in a “back and forth” motion.
  • Gently remove nail snags as soon as you can.
  • Avoid using metal instruments on the nail surface to push back the cuticle.
  • One reader says, “Apply petroleum jelly to your nails at bedtime. Cover them with cotton gloves and your nails will retain more of the moisture.”

If you have any more tips, please post what works for you below!

Reader Comments

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Si in Celery may help. Real olive oil on the skin/nails may help. Vit C breaks my nails. No gluten may help the intestines heal and absorb more minerals. Osteoprocare helps instead of dairy that made my nails/bones soft due to estrogen and maybe the Ca in it pushing Mg out of my body. Potatoes/banana/Himalyan salt may help add minerals/trace minerals. Low Zn may cause a white mark on the nails. Vit D3 5000IU may help gluten issues and help
more minerals absorb.

Extra calcium and nail file helps

I have low thyroid and have bitten my nails for over 50 years. Seems as hard to quit as quitting cigarettes. However, a few years ago my doctor recommended I take 1000 mg of calcium per day. This really helped, even though I drank a ton of milk per day. I can tell when I skip cause my fingers are in my mouth. It’s a craving for me. Also helped to have my nails cut and smoothed so I don’t use my teeth as a nail file. My nails are still short, but Look better.

Brittle Nails

I use decolorized iodine on my fingernails to strengthen them. I apply it with a q-tip, then blow dry my nails with my hairdryer. After 1-2 weeks of daily use, I back off the iodine use to 3 days per week. This is an old trick for nails that break easily. I purchase the decolorized iodine at my local pharmacy; it comes in a small bottle. And, yes, I do have hypothyroidism - secondary to Hashimoto's thyroiditis.

brittle nails

Thyroid conditions cause brittle nails. It can be in both finger and toenails or just in one with the other clear or having a nail fungus. Most people will notice ridges in their thumbs and first finger nails then the thinning of the nail itself. Soon, the nail will splinter. Keeping a check on your thyroid every 6 months will keep you up to date on how your body is working. Women with 'bad periods' or no periods for months usually have a thyroid problem.

Brittle nails

If your nails are white, then they are dry. Nails should be translucent. Use jojoba oil for best results in moisturizing your nails. Use regularly. Vitamin D deficiency, even a small one, is often overlooked as a reason for weak nails. Try a supplement.

brittle nails

I use olive oil rubbing it into nail beds before going to sleep ... helps a lot. The vaseline and white gloves also work, but the gloves bother me when I sleep.

nail biting cure

in boot camp our company commander asked for those that bit their nails to raise their hands. several of us did so. he made us clean the urinals with our hands! that was 49 years ago. have not bitten my nails since then!

Dry nails and skin

Emu oil is nature's wonder. Nothing is better for dry skin and nails. It is also a pain killer for arthritis when into sore spots. I also rubbed it on surgical scars and they healed beautifully. It is expensive but it lasts a very long time because all that is needed is a small drop. I also use it under my make up.

Any oil that encourages

Any oil that encourages killing the animal in order to harvest the oil does not appeal to me. Hopefully this won't catch on too much.

Brittle nails

I much prefer coconut oil or other natural oils to petroleum jelly. There aren't many petroleum
products in my home at all

brittle nails


supplement, inexpensive, can be found in the grocery store

brittle nails

I found that taking a collagen supplement worked really well for helping my brittle nails to stop splitting and peeling off. It had the extra benefit of reducing the amount of hair that I shed as well.

dry nails

petroleum jelly-? why would anyone put that on their nails or skin?


A relative told me I should take kelp to improve my hair and nails. My nails are extremely brittle and often split. I know kelp contains iodine and I already take a medication prescribed for low thyroid function. Thanks for your replies.

Nail Biting

Next time one starts biting their nails, have them stand in front of a mirror and continue biting. It doesn't (didn't) take long to break the habit - trust me!

Works for People Too

I use Hoofmaker on my hands just before I go to bed. It is completely absorbed so there's no greasy feeling and it sure keeps my nails in tip top shape! Helps them grow and mosisturizes them. Works great on my horses' hooves as well!

brittle nails

I have brittle nails - I also had thyroid (hypo) and thyroid cancer. For a very brief time, I was eating lots of yogurt which seemed to help my nails grow out and were nice - then I stopped and they went back to brittleness again. I guess the yogurt / calcium helped a little.

brittle nails

The most common reason for brittle nails is problems with the thyroid. Talk to your health care provider and do the blood tests to see if an under active/overactive thyroid is causing the problems. Nails do not absorb the oils or lotions. It is the surrounding tissues that plumps up.

Nail Biting

I bit my nails for many years. Someone commented on it at work when I was probably 40. I don't know why but I tended to bite when I was driving. Somehow I decided to wear gloves when I was driving and I finally stopped. My nails are beautiful now.


The weather has a lot to do with dry and cracking brittle nails. However, believe it or not, it's in your genes also on the condition of your nails. Olive oil is the best for nails, especially in winter and spring. Can apply with a brush and or rub into nail plate before retiring for the night. Creams can't be absorbed into the nail plate like olive oil. A regular routine will help the dryness and keeping a cream polish on them. Frosted and shimmering polish and glitter are most drying to nails and if you're having a problem, abstain from these types on a regular basis. Manicuring nails at least once a week will also prevent breaks and splits.

Use coconut oil on

Use coconut oil on as well as petroleum jelly.


I use Tea Tree oil very successfully.