Nail Biting and Brittle Nail Remedies

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These helpful remedies will keep you from biting your nails.

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Penn State University

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

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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 1/3 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!

About The Author

Heidi Stonehill

Heidi Stonehill is a senior editor for The Old Farmer’s Almanac, where she focuses much of her time on managing content development for the Almanac’s line of calendars. Read More from Heidi Stonehill

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