Nail Biting Anonymous

::stands nervously::

Hello. My name is, er, stolichnaya, and I am an adult nail biter.

So here’s the thing… I’ve been pretty successful a few times over the last year, and even ended up with actual nails. But I will always find myself disintgerating in a huge blaze of nibbling glory ofer the course of a few days. I am on the bad end of such a frenzy as we speak, and I’m ashamed.

So ashamed, that I’m thinking of actually painting my nails with that stuff, whatever it is.

Here are my questions:

What the heck is “that stuff” and how/why/does it work?

If you’ve successfully stopped biting, what (mentally or physically) helped you?

Thank you all very much.


The stuff didn’t help me at all. It tastes bad. Idea is, you start nibbling on your nails unconciously, then the bad taste of the stuff suprises you, and you say, oh, yeah, I shouldn’t bite my nails.

Turns out I didn’t want to change that badly. The pleasure of biting my nails far outweighed the temporary unpleasantness of the stuff, which you can lick off quickly an then it goes away.

Plus the stuff gets on other stuff that you want to have in your mouth.

Sandwiches. I’m talking about sandwiches, people. Dirty minded cretins . . .

Well, it sounds like you are powerless over your nails, but are your lives really unmanageable? If so, give examples! Do you bleed all over things from nail-biting? Do you get infections. Is it more than just a cosmetic problem? Do you ever try to bite your toenails? If you answer yes to these questions, then there is help!


Oh my gosh! I too suffer the plight! I swear to you… giving up nail biting is harder than giving up Heroin and Smoking… both at the same time! (I’m serious… I’ve at least quit smoking, and that was nowhere NEAR the trouble of giving up nail biting.)

I too tried the foul tasting stuff… and I as well found it completely useless.

I have tried about everything I can think of… and just can’t stop.

"Do you bleed all over things from nail-biting? Do you get infections. Is it more than just a cosmetic problem? Do you ever try to bite your toenails? "

I don’t bleed all over things, but I have bled. It gets to the point, where my nails are so bad I don’t have nails left to bite… so I start digging into the skin around the nails as well. Cosmetic problem-- absolutely! Never attempted to bite my toe nails.

Warning-- Quick Rant*
(By the way-- I think you understate the issue by calling it “just” a cosmetic problem. Is somebody who is horribly scarred, but otherwise healthy suffering from “just a cosmetic problem?” Granted, my fingernails can’t compare with this, but if you are generally concerned about looking decent… does this not constitute a disruption to your life?)
Rant over

So, I say… this is a great question. Anybody have any ideas… I’d love to stop biting them. I’m sure they would appreciate it!

I tend to start and stop. Right now, I haven’t bitten mine for about two and a half weeks, and they look pretty good. But I inherited my mother’s crappy nails, so one of them is bound to break soon, and then will come the test. I can’t STAND having nine decent nails and one broken one, so if one goes, the rest have to go too. The question is how: do I give in and bite them, or do I file them all down neatly and have very short but okay looking nails?

It helps that I am going to an event at the end of the month which I want to have decent nails for, just because I don’t want to look like a slob, and I’m not a neat biter.

Does anybody out there know how long it takes for the quick to extend itself? I’ve bitten my nails halfway down to the cuticles, so if they get anywhere near the end of my fingers, they’ve actually grown quite a lot and are very vulnerable to breakage.

I have been a nailbiter for as long as I can remember. My mother actually put that Nail Biter stuff in my Christmas stocking one year. And I was hardcore–once my nails were bitten down to the quick, I’d chew the skin on my fingers, or contort myself so I could chew my toenails. (Okay, I stopped doing that last one when I was about 12.)

I quit twice–once as a sophomore in high school, the next time when I was a freshman in college. Both times, an acute bout of stress sent me back to biting. Of course, my family and friends were disgusted with seeing me biting, so I became a closet nailbiter.

I quit again in February. And, so far, I’ve been successful, with one minor slip right before I threw the world’s most stressful bridal shower for my best friend back in June. But this time, I don’t really have the urge to start biting again. I think that this time, I have quit forever.

Each time I quit, I did it with nail polish. At first, I could substitute picking on the nail polish for biting the nail. Finally, the habit of biting the nail was broken, and I became annoyed by the nail polish and stopped using it. I sit here typing this with long, lovely nails.

It only took me 24 years to quit, and I won’t call myself “cured” until I have gone an entire year without biting. Good luck to you, fellow biters.


Umm…I also chew on my nails…but sometimes…sometimes…I also chew on my…toenails…<starts sobbing>…I don’t eat them I just chew…on…them…OH GOD…

::sits down pulls out hankie:: <sobs>

I have done most of these things. I’ve had infections that have required treatment by oral antibiotics, and I’ve had nailbeds so bloody and scabby that it hurt to do much of anything.

The only cure I’ve found has been artificial acrylic nails. They cost $20 every other week, but then, so do antibiotics.


Qadgop the Mercotan, groovy name, baby. And IIRC you are a doctor, are you not?

I don’t bite my toenails but I do have the urge now and then, especially when my fingers are down to the quick. I’ve always wondered if there was some sort of mineral or vitamin deficiency involved. I feel compelled to eat the clippings, rather than to just spit them out. I will also head in on the cuticles at times.

Your tone seems to suggest an utter helplessness that I do not feel. But there is no question that there is an urge in me to do these things, and if that is indicative of a deficiency that I can cure, I’d like to know that.

I did this when I was little.

I was horrible about it.

I second the nail polish idea. It gave me something else to compulsively do all of the time. Now I flick my nails instead. (where you click your thumb nail over and under another nail. click click click click Still annoys the snot out of people, but I have cute nails.)

I was biting the nail on my left pinkie when I saw this thread. <blush>

I’m almost 38, and I still struggle with this problem. It became worse after I quit smoking fifteen years ago.

The only thing that ever stops me is a thick coat of nail polish. I don’t like biting into the polish- the texture puts me off. I use clear polish, so it’s not so obvious as I nervously chip it off. I think the longest I’ve ever gone without biting a nail is two weeks.
I guess it’s time to put on some nail polish again. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I did nail polish for a while, and grew my nails beyond the end of my fingertip for the first time in my life.

Then I discovered that my nails are weak and tear easily.

Now I just chew 'em to keep them short. Only when I’m both stressed and bored do I ever bite them down to the quick. It happens rarely, but oooo, does that hurt–hurts enough that I don’t do it again for a long while.

I’m an on again-off again biter. If I don’t bite my nails they get about 1/2 an inch long and look really pretty but then one of them will break off and then another and another and so on… and I’ll start biting them again.

My SO used to give me a lot of shit about biting my nails and I told him that I could quit biting my nails any time I wanted to. He bet that I couldn’t do it and guess what… I’m winning! My nails are about 1/4 of an inch long and still growing.

It’s really just mind over matter. Kind of like smoking. Find something else to do with your hands and you won’t bite your nails.

I don’t want to quit biting my nails. I’ve done it as long as I can remember, and I learned from my father, who learned from his. My poor grandmother has tried to get three generations to quit, but only death has stopped my grandfather from biting his nails. My father and I still bite.

Now, I see that Anniz has lovely long nails, and I want to bite them, too. She won’t let me, though. :frowning:

I was a nail-biter for 23 years. One day I just stopped. I have no idea how or why. I didn’t mean to.
Now I have the opposite problem, I keep forgetting to cut them. I lightly scratch my wife’s back, open four parallel wounds and get told to go cut them.
On the plus side, my guitar playing sounds much better since stopping the biting.
Proof that if it’s not one compulsion, it’s another.

I was a nail-biter for 23 years. One day I just stopped. I have no idea how or why. I didn’t mean to.
Now I have the opposite problem, I keep forgetting to cut them. I lightly scratch my wife’s back, open four parallel wounds and get told to go cut them.
On the plus side, my guitar playing sounds much better since stopping the biting.
Proof that if it’s not one compulsion, it’s another.

I’m 32 and still bite mine. For me it isn’t nerves - it is the annoying feel of long nails, if they have even the remotest chance of snagging on something they must GO! I stopped biting for a while and tried using a nail file - I filed them down to almost nothing but they were still too long. I swear if I could have my fingernails removed I probably would. I know this is all so very OBSESSIVE but that is how I am.

Speaking now as a physician and in all seriousness, problem nail-biting can be very difficult to overcome, and really is not very volitional at all. The biter usually finds themself halfway thru the munching before really even realizing it.

It can be viewed as a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. And the SSRI antidepressants Luvox and Prozac have seemed to be effective in stopping the behavior in a statistically significant number of individuals. Frankly, this is about the most successful method of stopping I have run across in the legitimate literature.

This is not advice to you fellow nail-biters, but just some facts! If you think you need help, consider talking to a family doc or friendly psychiatrist.

I don’t quite do the nail-biting thing, though I do bite at a rough spot on a nail if I can’t get to a file quickly enough.

However, I do the cuticle-picking thing. I CANNOT keep from picking at my cuticles until there are none left and the flesh around my nails is sore and red. I saw a name for this affliction on the 'net: onychotillomania. I did complain to my doctor about it once, and he prescribed Zoloft. The Zoloft made me nauseous and gave me a horrible headache, so I stopped taking it. Just like some of you say, I do the picking when I am bored or stressed. I’d give a purty to be able to grow back some cuticles again!

I was a nail chewer from childhood until well into my 40s, except for a brief time just before the wedding when my beloved annoyed me into quitting long enough to allow the mandatory rings photo with promises of conjugal delights. I finally quit, more or less, but you don’t want to have any thing to do with my method.

I managed to nearly cut off my left thumb trying to shoe a horse (some of us will try anything to save a buck). I did cut the nerve that services the tip of the thumb. I don’t know if not being able to feel the gnawing or just not being able to feel at all did it but the desire to nail chew just disappeared. Apparently the left thumb was where I started and when I didn’t chew it I didn’t chew on any. Keeping them trimmed and filed seems to help, too. If they are not rough and split I leave them alone.