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Nail biting (the medical name is onychophagia) is the most common of all the 'oral compulsive' habits. The sufferer not only bites the nails themselves but also the cuticle and soft tissue surrounding the nail.

Nail biting often starts in early childhood although it can be learned habit later in life.  It is often associated with anxiety or stress but can be just a habit bought by boredom or the conscious mind just “switching off” and the subconscious mind taking over when the person is relaxing such as when they are watching TV.

Nearly all nail biters consciously want to stop the habit and will have tried several  times to break the cycle but when they are not thinking about it their fingers will go to their mouths again.

It is thought that that around 30% of all children, and 15% of adults bite their nails on a regular basis, and surprisingly it effects more males more than females. Although nail biting starts for most in the formative years of childhood, the most prevalent time is in the teenage years, before declining when reaching adulthood.


The primary cause of nail biting is 'oral satisfaction'.  This is where under stress or anxiety (or boredom) we put our hands to our mouths.  This is common too in compulsive eaters and cigarette smokers.

Although it is often associated with an underlying anxiety, some sufferers will bite their nails in when excited, stressed or at times of boredom.

The symptoms of problem nail biting include bleeding fingers, infection, scarring and sometimes abscesses. In extreme cases there may be damage to the teeth and gums.  Nail biters become very self conscious about their habit – particular as adults – as it is seen as a “childish behaviour”.  They are often ashamed of  their hands and try to hide them in public.

A not uncommon side effect of nail biting is poor self-esteem.

What is Nail Biting?    

Nail Biting - Symptoms and effects    

Hypnotherapy for nail biting enables the client to gain control again. Hynotherapy for nail biting is about gaining control again and braking the habit.  In simple cases this just means re-programming the subconscious mind with the habit of not biting your nails. It may involve collapsing underlying anxieties also. When we bite our nails we often feel we're out of control so the primary role of treatment is to enable the client to feel empowered again.

It is surprisingly quick to change a habit of a lifetime like nail-biting.  Work is normally done in just 2 one hour sessions. Not only is the habit of nail biting banished but self-esteem is improved as the sufferer no longer feels embarrasemant about the state of their hands and feels confident to show their hands in public again.

The above photo is from a client Andy Cox worked with showing healthy nail growth after just a couple of sessions of hypnotherapy.

Client Nails - Assured Effects Hypnotherapy

Nail Biting - How hypnotherapy can help     

Assured Effects Hypnotherapy - Thank youI've learned to be kind to myself, which changes everything, all the outlook at the world and myself.  I've stopped biting my nails, the habit I've had for 26 years, which is amazing and really great.  I found myself disgusted by biting my nails. I would not put it in or even near my mouth now!



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