Whether in childhood, through the angsty teen years, or when learning to adult, you’ve likely caught yourself chewing on your nails at some point or another. And, chances are, you might still be biting your nails at work, home, or watching a game (hey, even Kate Middleton does it). However, the nervous habit can and should be broken. Not only is it stopping you from wearing intricately designed nail trends, but it could actually lead to some pretty nasty infections too. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, “Chronic nail biting can leave you vulnerable to infection as you pass harmful bacteria and viruses from your mouth to your fingers and from your nails to your face and mouth.” If you’ve needed an excuse to nip nibbling in the bud, there it is. Since quitting isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, ahead we share six surefire ways to kick the habit for good.

Kate Middleton Biting Nails

1. Make a commitment to quit. Try writing down your intention to give up biting your nails and how accomplishing this goal will make you feel. When you notice yourself about to bite, stop yourself and ask why you want to do it, and remind yourself of the commitment that you have made. (Photo via Pascal Le Segretain / Getty)

2. Distract yourself. Most of the time nail biting is done absentmindedly — for example, while watching TV or in stressful situations. Find something that can replace the nervous tendencies, like keeping a hair tie on your wrist to fiddle with so your fingers stay out of your mouth. If it’s more about the chewing sensation, pop in a piece of gum.

3. Add taste diversions. This isn’t the most desirable way to quit your habit, but dermatologists suggest it as one of the best ways to stop for good. There are tons of OTC nail solutions (like Kiko No More Biting Nail Laquer [$8]) that will prevent you from chewing thanks to their bitter flavoring, so make a stop at your local drugstore to get started.

No time to head to the drugstore? You can also dip your nails into spicy things such as hot sauce, and pepper. While you don’t have to wear hot sauce around all day, the lingering spicy sensations will remind you to stop.

Manicured hands with red nail polish on a blue background.

4. Keep your nails manicured. There is just something about a new coat of polish that makes you want to maintain the Insta-worthy mani. Why not kill two birds with one stone by committing to a weekly or biweekly manicure that leaves your digits looking sharp and your edges unbitten? (Photo via Jonathan Jones / EyeEm / Getty)

5. Keep your nails short. Sometimes removing the added urge to bite your nails might be the trick. If you keep your nails shorter, you have less risk of hangnails (a definite trigger to chew) and less room to bite your nail off.

6. Talk to a professional. If you find that quitting is more difficult than you bargained for or that nothing has seemed to work, seek professional help from either a psychologist or dermatologist. They are there to help — and let’s face it, sometimes we need an extra set of eye, hands, or ears to get to the bottom of our most persistent inclinations.

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