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16 Things That Actually Helped People Stop Picking And Biting Their Nails

It's really hard to kick a nail biting or nail picking habit, but things like acrylic nails and fidget toys can help.

We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what helped them actually stop picking and/or biting their nails. Here are some of their responses:

1. Pick up a habit that keeps your hands busy, like knitting:

Photo by Imani on Unsplash

"I was a chronic nail biter for 26 years. I initially starting biting my nails due to anxiety, but it ended up being a habit that was so automatic I didn’t even realize when I was doing it. What helped me the most doing hobbies that kept my hands and mind busy like cross stitching and knitting. I would become immersed in finishing a project that had such instant gratification. Before I knew it, I couldn’t remember the last time I bit my nails."


2. Indulge in acrylic nails that'll protect your real ones:

Anchiy / Getty Images

"They made it physically impossible to bite my nails, and by the time they came off, I had broken the habit!"


3. Use a fidget toy like a Frick-Frack to occupy your hands whenever you get the urge to pick:

"My coworker gave me a Frick-Frack at a meeting once. (It’s a meshy tube with a marble in it.) It gives my fingers something to do and keeps me from picking at my cuticles. When I realize my hands are beginning to pick I pull it out and it really, really helps. I still pick some, but nowhere near as much. Plus, Frick-Fraks are on Amazon in 10-packs for not too much."


Get it from Amazon for $6.99.

4. Find a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy:

Taylor Miller / BuzzFeed

"Three months of cognitive behavioral therapy with a therapist who specializes in dermatillomania and regularly maintaining gel on my nails. I starting picking as a very young child and could not stop on my own in adulthood. I wasn’t sure that I’d ever be able to stop and was one of the most severe cases (in terms of lengths of time one had been picking) that my therapist had seen. It’s been two years since therapy and my hands look amazing."


5. Strategically limit which nail you can bite or pick:

Lolostock / Getty Images

"I was going trough a really stressful time and my nails were paying the price; they were hurting and bleeding all day everyday. One day, my therapist came up with this idea — she told me pick a finger out of blue and she didn’t tell me the reason. I chose my little finger on my right hand for no reason. And she told me from now on that is the only finger you can bite. This may sound foolish but all of my fingers were in horrible condition, so I think this was clever and after a while, it worked and I haven’t bitten my nails for five years!"


6. Try letting a teeny bit of one nail grow, and celebrate its progress:

"I picked my nails for 25 years. I had one really busy week where I just didn't have time to pick and I noticed one nail was actually showing a little bit of white at the top. I just focused on letting that one nail grow and stopped picking it — and it worked! I did that with another nail and then another and I was so proud of my progress. I haven't picked for two years and now I get so many compliments on my nails, I don't want to! If I can do it, you can do it!"


7. Make nail art and polish a hobby:

Sinenkiy / Getty Images

"I started doing really detailed nail art that I would spend 3+ hours doing and I would think to myself if you bite your nails then all that effort would have been for nothing. As a result I got really good at nail art, and really good-looking long nails."


8. Put some oil of oregano on your nails:

"I bite the sides of my nails and get massive Black Swan type hangnails. I started putting oil of oregano on them. It’s safe to ingest and is really good for your immune system, but it tastes horrible straight up so you don’t want your mouth directly on that shit! Helps a lot!"


Get it from Amazon for $19.94.

9. Or apply some foul-tasting clear polish so that you have no desire to put your nails anywhere near your mouth:

"There’s a clear nail polish that tastes super acidic that I used to use to curb the habit."


Get it from Amazon for $15.25.

10. Carry around a set of cuticle clippers that you can whip out when you want to pick:

Getty Images

"I got a set of cuticle clippers! Instead of picking at everything, I clip the things that could become an issue so there’s nothing to pick at!"


11. Use a cuticle moisturizer, and remember to celebrate your wins:

"I bit my nails for 17 years, and I finally managed to quit! I did a few different things, but what helped me the most was this: I carried a cuticle moisturizer and every time I found myself picking or biting I would put the moisturizer on my nails. It made them look really nice and the texture of the wax made me keep my nails out of my mouth. I also took pictures of my nails every day so I could see how they grew over time! Every time I hit a milestone (which for me was even going two days without biting) I would send the pictures to my best friend and we would celebrate."


Get it from Amazon for $8.85.

12. Wear a piece of jewelry you can focus your attention on:

Photo by Jasmin Schreiber on Unsplash

"Wearing rings helps — instead of biting my nails when I'm anxious, I twist the rings around."


13. Or slip a rubber band around your wrist that you can play with instead:

Laymul / Getty Images

"I've been wearing a rubber band around my wrist so whenever I feel the urge to fiddle my hands and pick at my nails, I simply play with the rubber band instead."


14. Wear a lipstick or gloss so that you really notice every time you put your fingers to your mouth:

Misuma / Getty Images

"Wearing lip gloss or lipstick, because it helps trigger my brain that I’m starting to bite (it’s so second nature I’ll do it without realizing it). And above all, celebrate the small wins."


15. Chew gum when you need to:

Supermimicry / Getty Images

"Painting my nails wasn't enough to stop me, so whenever I felt the urge to bite my nails I would chew gum instead. I haven't bitten my nails in almost 10 years now."


16. And enlist the help of a loved one:

Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash

"My boyfriend used to not say anything about then one day he told me it was nasty, which it is, but he knew it upset me so he dropped it. What really helped was when I told him I was ready to stop if he ever saw me subconsciously pick."


Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Seeing other people dealing with the same thing you are is a great way to feel less alone, but if you found a lot of things in this post a little too relatable, you might want to look into other ways to take care of yourself. So, here are some quick resources, just in case:

You might want to read more about BFRBs and check out resources and information on how to get treatment.

You can read about anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, since BFRBs can be a symptom or coping mechanism of both.

As we head into the new year, we're talking about all the ways to make your life and the world around you a little bit better. Read more Do Better 2019 content here.