Why Do I Bite My Nails?

Nail-biting is a habit that is hard to kick. You might find yourself wondering “Why do I bite my nails in the first place?” What causes this habit, and why is it so hard to stop?

In this article, we will be discussing reasons why people bite their nails, why you shouldn’t bite your nails, and what you can do to help yourself try and stop.

What This Article Covers:

Reasons Why You Could Be Biting Your Nails


This is one of the more common reasons why people bite their nails. People who get bored easily tend to like to keep their hands busy to distract them from this boredom.

As a result, they resort to habits such as hair twirling, and most commonly, nail-biting. 

When you’re bored, you also tend to get hungry. Nail-biting can be used to combat these feelings of hunger too and helps to keep you preoccupied.

When people are bored, they tend to be understimulated. Nail-biting helps with this and provides them with stimulation.

Stress And Anxiety

why do people bite their nails

Nail-biting is often a sign of someone who is experiencing stress or anxiety. 

The repetitive action of nail-biting provides structure and has a calming effect on people who are suffering from either one of these cases. 

When people are stressed or anxious, they tend to be overstimulated. This is when they tend to bite their nails, as it can help calm them. 

Body-Focused Repetitive Disorder

Body-focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) are a cluster of disorders that result in you repeatedly touching, or fiddling, with your hair or body in ways that cause damage.

The most common BFRDs are hair pulling, nail-biting, skin picking, and skin biting.

BFRD is chronic, and most people aren’t aware that they are doing these behaviors. The ones that are aware often want to stop but are unable to. 

BFRD is also often associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). If you have BFRD as well as ADHD, it makes it harder to atop impulses like nail-biting.

People with ADHD need to be stimulated, even if the stimulation comes from pain as nail-biting does. 

And people with BFRDs enjoy the pain and stimulation, which is why nail biting is so common

It Is Comforting

A lot of kids bite their nails because it is comforting. When they are babies, they suck their fingers, and as they get older, this turns into nail-biting.

Nail-biting still provides them with the same feeling of sucking their fingers did. It is a familiar, safe, action that makes them feel comfortable and protected.

Mental Health Issues 

Nail-biting is very often linked to mental health issues. As we already mentioned, nail-biting is something that people with anxiety disorder and ADHD take on. 

what causes nail biting

There are other psychiatric disorders that are also linked to nail-biting, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, oppositional defiant disorder, and Tourette syndrome. 

It May Be Genetic

Some research believes that there are genetic components to nail-biting, but there is not a lot of evidence surrounding this. 

But, regardless of whether it is genetic or not, children whose parents bite their nails are more likely to start the habit, too. 

It Becomes A Habit 

Regardless of what made you start biting your nails, once you start, it becomes a habit.

Even if the original cause is solved or eliminated, some people still tend to stick with nail-biting because it has become a habit. 

Reasons Why You Should Stop Biting Your Nails

Nail Toxicity 

If you bite your nails whilst you are wearing nail polish, it can lead to nail toxicity. Most nail polish is toxic, and the ingredients in nail polish can make you very ill if you bite your nails with it on. 

Most nail polishes contain a high amount of toxins, and gel nail polish, especially, contains chemicals in it that should not be ingested by humans. 

Nail damage from gel polish is very frequent, so you can imagine what would happen if you ingested it. 

Here at Orly, we are proud to say that our nail polish is free from harmful chemicals and ingredients. But, even though this is the case, we still wouldn’t recommend biting your nails and ingesting it. 

Unfortunately, no matter how non-toxic nail polish is, it will always contain some form of chemicals in it, and we would strongly advise against ingesting it. 

For those who are now stressing and wondering “Can nail polish kill you?” The answer is that only in very big quantities. 

Biting off your nail polish won’t kill you, but it is something that we really want to avoid.


Fingernails capture so much more dirt under them than you realize, making them a breeding ground for bacteria in germs. If you are biting them the whole time, you are letting those germs into your system.

This makes you much more likely to develop infections in your throat and mouth and makes you much more likely to develop colds and flu. 

Your Teeth Can Get Damaged

why do people chew their nails

Using your teeth to bite your nails is very bad for them, as they shouldn’t be used for anything other than chewing your food.

Biting your nails can lead to your teeth shifting out of place, chipping, the enamel wearing down, and the germs from underneath your nails can cause gum irritation and infection. 

Ingrown Fingernails

Nail-biting can cause ingrown fingernails which are extremely painful. In the best case, they will just be sore, swollen, and red. In the worst case, they will need surgery to rectify.

Low Self Esteem

Biting your nails leaves them looking inflamed, sore, and ugly. This can decrease a lot of people’s self-esteem and can end up making you become depressed and not want to be seen in public due to the state of your nails. 

Ways To Help You Stop Biting Your Nails

Identify Your Triggers

First and foremost, you need to identify what, if anything, is triggering you to bite your nails. Whether it is OCD, boredom, or anxiety, it is going to make it a lot harder to stop if nail-biting is a coping mechanism for one of these problems.

If it is a coping mechanism, and you don't get the problem sorted out, you are going to keep wanting to resort back to it, and it is going to make it impossible to stop. 

Use Bitter Tasting Nail Polish

Using bitter-tasting nail polish is a great way to kick the habit. Every time you put your fingers in your mouth to bite them, it will taste very unpleasant, and hopefully, repel you.

why is nail biting bad

Our anti-nail-biting polish, No Bite, is a fantastic option to try and has produced so many positive results. 

Get A Manicure

Getting either a gel or acrylic manicure is a helpful way to stop nail-biting. It is much harder to bite gel or acrylic nails than it is to bite bare nails or nails with nail polish on. 

You may be wondering why we suggest this since you can get nail damage from nail polish. If your nail biting is at quite a bad stage, then the biting will be doing more damage to your nails than the nail polish would.

So, in this case, this is definitely one of the benefits of nail polish, as it can help you get on the right track and stop your nail-biting habit. 

Lastly, you may also be wondering “Is it bad to wear nail polish all the time?”. In the beginning, if having a manicure is working, rather keep the manicures on for longer. 

why bite nails

If you use some of the treatments on our website in conjunction with them, it will also help keep your nails nourished and grow longer. 

Keep Your Nails Trimmed Short

Keeping your nails trimmed short doesn't leave much nail for you to bite on, and it helps to stop you from trying to pick at them.

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