Advice sought on how to stop nibbling fingers

Hi all.

My OH keeps nibbling at the skin around her finger nails. It seems to me to be a nerves thing - she had stopped but recently started a new job and has started again. The problem is that the constant tearing of skin led to an infection in the past and affects how the nails grow in that they have deep ridges.

Any suggestions as to how to stop this? I've suggested cutting the fingers off or smearing them with chilli paste but she wasn't overly receptive...



  • Hi
    One method of habit reversal that she could try is this: first recognise the feeling of the urge to nibble before the nibble starts, and then clench your fist to prevent nibbling, and breathe calmly and slowly until the urge passes..... and do that every time you get the urge.
  • Thanks Vicky Pea - I've passed that on. Sounds good advice. Mind you she rarely/never normally listens to anything I say!
  • Boxing gloves?     image
  • ive been a finger nibbler for years and as a result have horrible scars on my fingers. Although i still do it when im stressed out there are a few alternatives that work,  chewing on lolly sticks or biccy peggs (teething sticks for babies). 

     I wouldnt do either in public but i have found that chewing on somehing else stops me eating my fingers until they bleed!

  • M...eldy - sounds ok, but I could get into trouble for assault and I'm not even sure it's appropriate!

    Thanks tinasprout - very good, passed on!

    I knew I'd get some cracking advice on here!

  • I didn't mean to knock her out ...  they were for her to wear

    although the first could work  image
  • I know what I suggested sounds quite straightforward but it takes quite a lot of willpower- I know because I tried it once- it was hard but it worked!
  • Gloves - a great idea.  What stopped me biting my nails in my late teens was the fashion for wearing gloves everywhere (with rings on the outside).  So thin, elegant gloves for indoors and usual gloves for outside.  That way the habit can be broken hopefully.  Good luck.

    Oh and when they were unbitten, I used Sally Hansen's growth programme clear varnish to strengthen my nails which made them look good + I don't want to bite them and get a mouthful of varnish shavings.

  • I have a big problem with doing this - my boyfriend HATES it! Both my parents do it constantly and I think I picked it up from them. The best tip I've got is to look after your nails - when my nails are short, chipped and scruffy it is easy to just gnaw away at the skin around them - if I grow them long and try and keep them smart the sight of them makes me think twice before disfiguring my hands!
  • Some excellent advice - thanks to all of you! I really hope she listens!
  • It's something I've been doing for years. I've had numerous attempts at stopping through willpower which have always failed, normally when I'm watching football and the nerves get too much for me. Currently trying Stop and Grow which is painted onto the nails and is colourless and odourless but tastes foul. It's working so far.
  • Tell her to try rubbing oil into the area , so have a pot of oil, either proper nail oil or almond oil or save shopping tonight plain old olive oil will do! Rubbing the area gives her something to do [ meaning breaking her old habit!]  & the skin then becomes soft so not as easy to nibble it, many of my clients have tried this & not only have they stopped nibbling its help to grow their nails!! Worth a go anyway!
  • like others, I've been a finger nibbler for years (nails and skin around them) - maybe 40 years or so?? It's something I don't think I'll ever get rid of now and I'm well past the worst of it and can control the worst aspects (scars, bleeding, pain etc). My fingers no longer look that bad thankfully!

    I'm worse when I have idle hands - driving, sat watching the TV, period of boredom etc. And like Parklife says, wearing gloves is a good way to help control it - my nails grow nicely when I'm on a skiing holiday, which gives me more to chew on when I get home! image

  • NessieNessie ✭✭✭

    Another nibbler too - especially the thumb of my left hand.  My daughter keeps rubbing it and saying "sore" and wanting to kiss it better, which makes me feel bad, as it's self inflicted.

    I will try some of the suggestions and see if I can stop too - it's especially bad when I'm tired or stressed.

  • I never thought this was such a widespread problem - I'm feeling a bit left out - maybe I should start??

    I'm very grateful for all your replies, all suggestions will be passed on. Maybe as she settles in the new job the need to nibble will wane as she hd done so well in stopping before.

    Cheers everyone!

  • How about sticking your hands in a smelly place ? You won't want to touch them with your mouth afterwards ! image Unless you are really strange .......
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