Nail biting is a common habit which has a variety of root causes. There are several techniques you can use to stop biting your fingernails, including the use of bitter tasting substances, hypnosis, and regular nail care. If you can successfully stop the biting, you will enjoy healthier nails and cuticles as well quitting a nasty habit.
Start by identifying the root cause for the nail biting. Biting the fingernails is usually a reflection of an oral fixation: perhaps you are stressed out or recently quit smoking. It is important to understand why you are doing it, because as you stop biting your fingernails, you will want to find ways to distract yourself, such as chewing gum, knitting, or finding another activity for your hands. If you know the root cause, you can distract yourself in situations where you might normally bite your nails.
An important first step is trimming your nails. Keep the nails short by filing them, and trim the cuticles as well. If your nails are short, there will be less available to bite. If you do find yourself biting a nail, stop immediately and file the nail not only to shorten it, but also to file any ragged parts away.
One typically successful way to stop biting your fingernails is the use of a substance with a bitter flavor. Many companies make products, such as bitter nail polish, to help you keep your fingers out of your mouth. Other items around the home such as habanero pepper, soap, or anything else you can find with a bitter or intense taste can be just as effective. Apply the product to your hands frequently throughout the day, but be careful not to rub your eyes or any other delicate areas.
A manicure may also help you stop biting your fingernails. Manicures will trim away dead skin on the cuticle, strengthen the nail, and shorten it if you request it. The polish used often tastes bitter, and will remind you to stop biting your nails if you unconsciously start again. For people who cannot afford manicures, consider nail polish, either clear or colored.
For severe cases, hypnosis can be used to end this habit. You can visit a hypnotherapist for multiple sessions or purchase tapes recorded for nail biters. It may take several sessions to see results with hypnosis, but it can result in long term behavioral modification that will prevent you from biting your fingernails ever again.