Nail Biter

I bite my nails. And the skin around them. It’s a disgusting habit, one I’ve tried to conquer for over a decade. 

It’s about anxiety, anxiety I don’t even register until I realize I’m biting my nails. 

My skin is dry, especially now, and when I pick at the skin around my already ravaged finger nails I eventually get cracks at the corners. They are relatively small little fissures, but they hurt like crazy. Lately I have at least one at any given moment, sometimes as many as three or four. When they get really deep, I cover them in ointment and wrap them in a bandaid. They usually take a day or two to heal, but as soon as one feels better, another opens up. 

They are such small nuances, but they cause me so much discomfort. You’d think they’d be the perfect motivator–the kind of natural consequence that gets someone to stop doing something they know they shouldn’t do. And yet, even they are not a powerful enough deterent. I guess I’ll be biting my nails forever. 



  1. Ointment and bandaids much much earlier in the game. Even Vaseline and wearing cotton gloves for 20 mins before washing hands and then applying cream will help prevent the fissures. Stopping the skin abuse helps with reducing the tension of an unsmooth spot that encourages bitting the nail. Keeping your nails always ‘nurse short’, filed and cut, also prevents having an edge that your teeth can attack.

  2. I get those skin cracks all winter (and I don’t bite my nails) long here in Chicago. It’s awful. What has helped is putting on hand lotion and then wearing gloves at night. I agree with the commenter above- keeping your nails short may prevent you from biting. If you painted your nails would you do less biting?

  3. Sometimes you just have to choose the least harmful vice to get through? Maybe? My small vice is a Coke a day. I like the nice lotion or ointment at bedtime with gloves too. Would fancy tasteless nails like those plastic shrink wrap on ones help? I know those have a name but I can’t do fake nails because of work so I mostly ignore them.

  4. Ouch!

    Matthew is a nail biter. My neighbor, who is 39 this year, is a nail biter. It’s not something I have ever done, but I’m learning to understand it. We don’t stop Matthew because it’s his comfort mechanism, and we’re not interested in making him feel self conscious about it. Some day we’ll make a go of stopping it, but my boy needs it right now.

    Do your kids bite their nails?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *