Nail biting is a relatively common problem among young children, although some adults have this condition as well. The technical term for nail biting is onychophagia, and the condition refers to the tendency certain people have to unconsciously bite on their fingernails and the surrounding skin. No one is completely sure why people bite their nails, but the general conclusion is that nail biting occurs as an unconscious side effect of particularly stressful situations or events. In this way it can be seen as a form of fidgeting or excess nervousness, and could be related to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol as is typically the case with other symptoms of stress like hair tugging and teeth grinding.
Some experts believe nail biting to simply be a bad habit built upon throughout childhood. The reasoning behind this is simple: if you continue doing an unconscious activity for a certain amount of time, the behavior is programmed into your unconscious mind and you continue to lay the foundation for similar behavior to occur in the future. Nail biting is one of these phenomena that can be cured relatively easily depending on how motivated you are to get rid of the problem.
One effective treatment that is used extensively on young children is to apply a bitter-tasting nail polish to their fingernails. When the child with the nail biting problem proceeds to bite as usual, he/she is met with an extremely disagreeable taste. This treatment is a simple psychological strategy similar to negative behavior reinforcement. The more you make yourself aware that doing something leads to quick and unpleasant results, the less likely you are to repeat that behavior in the future. Of course, it is important to continue this treatment for some time, until all of the symptoms associated with nail biting have been completely stopped.
There are other ways to stop nail biting. One of them is based on hypnotherapy, which is a psychological method by which a hypnotherapist conditions your unconscious mind to avoid causing you to bite your nails. Hypnotherapy is considered to be one of the most effective ways to control and reverse nail biting. You can find experts in hypnotherapy by running an online search or looking through business listings like the Yellow Pages. Once you have found someone who practices hypnotherapy, you can schedule a session.
This type of therapy tends to have a good success rate so you should consider trying it out in the event that other techniques are not working for you. If you use hypnosis to cure you of your unfortunate habits the effects will last longer and make for an easier transition into strong healthy nails. Once you have succeeded at stopping nail biting, it will be highly unlikely that you fall back into your old ways.