8 People Share How They Overcame Their Cuticle-Picking Habits
Skin picking affects one in every 20 people.
We’ve all been there before, where suddenly you notice the bottom edge of the skin surrounding your nail sticks up a little bit and taunts you until finally you grasp it between two fingers and rip. Sure, you may spill a little bit of blood in the process but the end result? Satisfying. At least, that’s how it feels to me every time I pick at my nails before speaking in public, handing in a project at work, or going to see the doctor. However, if you’ve ever wondered how to stop picking cuticles, we’ve got your back.
According to the International OCD Foundation, skin picking affects one in 20 people, and the large majority of that percentage is women. The behavior can start as early as childhood and can even prove to be the root of other psychological symptoms, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anxiety. This disorder can cause a lot of mental distress and spill over into problems with work, social, or other daily activities.
It may sound dramatic, but you never realize how self-conscious of your scabbed cuticles you are until you have to shake someone’s hand. We all handle stress in different ways, so we asked eight people how they beat their cuticle-picking habits—for good. Here’s what they said.
1. I bought rubber fingertip guards.
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“I pick when I’m stressed from work—I’ll destroy my fingers while I watch television,” shares Chiara Peretti, a 35-year-old who works a high-stress job in public relations. While she doesn’t typically wear her rubber guards during the day while she’s working, she says they’ve been a saving grace for her in the evenings. These rubber fingertip guards are easy to slip on and off and can be worn all day with comfort and ease while still having the flexibility to carry out everyday tasks and errands.
2. I keep my nails polished.
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“I find that I pick my cuticles more when my nails are bare,” says Jess McGowan, a 30-year-old woman. In response, she frequently paints her nails and finds that when they’re polished, she’s more hesitant to pick at them as she doesn’t want to mess up her manicure.
3. I put tiger balm around my nails.
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Mia Fredricks, 26, says she’s bit and picked at her nails her whole life. Now, Fredricks has noticed that her cuticle picking manifests itself when she’s stressed out, taking work calls, or when she feels uncomfortable. After noticing her bleeding cuticles, Fredricks says that her manicurist recommended she put tiger balm around her nails to prevent her from biting at them. “The smell and taste stop me from biting, and it creates a cognitive flag for me,” she shares.
4. I constantly lather my tips in cuticle oil.
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Chloe Zammit, 20, works in a retail shop and finds she often picks at her cuticles aimlessly during a long shift at work. While Zammit admits to picking at her nails more when they’re bare, she says that having cuticle oil on them helps a lot. Her favorite cuticle oil is from Revlon, and she loves how nourishing and luxurious the vitamin E-rich formula feels.
5. I put on hand lotion and massage each nail individually.
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As someone who works in senior care, Odette Mezzapelle, 55, shares that since she washes her hands so often, her hands are constantly dry and cracked. Seeing her dried out skin triggers her to pick at her cuticles, so to combat the urge and solve the problem, she frequently applies hand cream and massages each nail individually to give it individual attention.
6. I keep a nail nipper in my purse.
SEPHORA COLLECTION Cut to the Point Cuticle Nipper
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Meghan Waller, 28, used to pick at her nails constantly—until she invested in a good cuticle oil, cuticle pusher, and a nail nipper. “I started doing my nails during quarantine, and trimming my cuticles has been a game-changer,” she shares. “I keep the nipper in my purse so that if I’m out, I can cut [cuticles] and prevent them from ripping or bleeding.” She says that regularly trimming her cuticles has made a big difference in her picking habit, and says her nails have never looked better.
7. I regularly get acrylic nails.
“I pick until I bleed everywhere,” says Natasha Stogdill, 26. “I’ve tried everything, and the only thing that keeps me from picking is getting acrylic nails.” While she admits that the temptation is still there, her acrylics make it hard to get ahold of anything to pick at.
8. I wear gloves.
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Christine Marquet, 34, says that while she’s always picked at her facial skin, she only recently started picking at her cuticles and hangnails. To help her quit, a friend suggested she wear gloves to create a physical barrier between her mouth and her hands. Marquet had a pair from a ’20s-themed party, so she started wearing them non-ironically and noticed a difference after just a few days. She likes that they’re practical enough to prevent her from picking and functional enough to wear around town.