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Nail Biting

Nail biting is a very common behaviour in children - about 30 percent of children between 7 and 10 years of age and 45 percent of teenagers engage in nail biting (1). The causes for nail biting are considered to be possibly:

  • Stress 

  • Imitation of other family members

  • Heredity 

  • A transference from the thumb sucking habit

  • Poorly manicured nails.  (1)

  • Nail biting in children and teenagers often stops without much intervention. 

  • Nail biting in adults is simply the remnant of a childhood behaviour that perhaps gave comfort. As such, nail biting typically increases during periods of stress. In adults, other triggers such as:

  • Loneliness

  • Frustration

  • Boredom

Biting nails can also be a symptom of more serious conditions such as OCD, ADHD or Separation Anxiety Disorder (2).
Nail biting has both physical and emotional consequences:


  • Biting your nails can leave your fingers red and sore. 

  • The skin around your nails may become infected. 

  • Bacteria or viruses passed from your fingers to your mouth can make you vulnerable to infection. 

  • Nail biting can also harm your teeth, leading to poorly aligned, weakened teeth.

  • The appearance of bitten-down fingernails can also be embarrassing, which can only add to anxiety and stress.


"I think I must take top spot for having the longest running habit at 55 years! I first started biting my nails in 1959(!!) and haven't stopped since, until that is, I met Daniel. I don't know what or how he did it but he 'cured' me of my habit in one session. I'm typing this review and hearing the click click of fingernails, not the thud thud of stubby fingers. Thanks Daniel, highly recommending you to anyone I know who needs habit help." Geoff Shilton


Nail biting is not something that an individual consciously chooses to start or chooses to maintain into adulthood. Most nail biting starts and continues as a habit which is maintained by the subconscious mind. If we try consciously to stop biting our nails with will power, the moment we are distracted, stressed, bored or anxious, the subconscious pattern reasserts itself.


For simple habitual nail biting, hypnotherapy aims to help change this subconscious urge by communicating to this part of our mind. In hypnosis an individual is able to absorb suggestions for change into the subconscious. Other hypnotherapeutic approaches can be used to explore the connections between the habit and the emotional states or triggers and encourage a separation of the habit from the underlying cause.

If nail biting is a symptom of stress, anxiety, OCD or ADHD then these issues can be included in the treatment plan which I develop with each client.

If either you, your child or teen wants to stop nail biting then please do give me a call for a chat or to book an appointment.



1.    Leung AK, Robson WL (1990). "Nailbiting". Clin Pediatr (Phila). 29 (12): 690–2.
2.    Web MD website

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