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Essential Oils for Nail Biting: Do They Work?


Children tend to develop bad habits pretty fast. As they go to school together, play together, and eat together, they share much more than you expect. And that is natural – this is how they learn and grow. 

However, as far as the bad habits go, parents cannot leave it to their children to correct them themselves. Sometimes you need to get hold of the situation and fix it.  

So, let’s talk about nail-biting, a bad habit that children often develop. 

Nail-biting typically isn’t a serious concern and you can (most often) easily correct it in children. Using essential oils for nail-biting habits can do the trick, and we will talk about it soon enough.

You should also know that nail-biting is often temporary and, in most cases, children do it when they are either nervous, thinking too deeply, or zoned out. While nail-biting typically stops when someone is constantly made aware of it, parents must not ignore it. 

In some cases, nail-biting habit is not just the occasional nail-biting, but a condition called Onychophagia. Let’s learn more about it!

What is nail-biting? 

As I have mentioned above, nail-biting can be temporary. It is a non-destructive behavior that only leads to cosmetic issues or concerns regarding potential damage to the fingernails. However, if ignored and not corrected in time, this bad habit might become a severe problem. 

Nail-biting can also be one of the Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRBs) called Onychophagia. Under this condition, people end up biting their nails uncontrollably when put in a stressful situation or feeling anxious. 

In some cases, Onychophagia might also be accompanied by similar behaviors like skin picking or hair pulling. 

Biting your nails results in damage to the fingernails, cuticles, and soft tissues that surround the nails. The good news is that, according to experts, mild Onychophagia doesn’t need any professional treatments. However, if it gets worse and points to some kind of mental disorder or anxiety, you should seek professional help. 

Now, let’s look into how nail-biting habits can be stopped in children. Is there a way to stop it? Can you use essential oils for nail-biting? We will answer all your questions! Keep reading! 

How to stop nail-biting in children? 

As I have mentioned above, if the condition is mild, you need not necessarily work on stopping it as children generally outgrow the bad habit. However, if they do not keep it under control, you can start pointing them out and stopping them every time they bite their nails. 

On a second note, if we listen to expert dermatologists, keeping fingernails neat and trim and keeping your hands well-groomed remarkably reduces the urge to bite your nails. 

When it comes to children, you can also try an age-old trick of putting a bitter-tasting element on their fingers and nails, so every time they try to bite their nails, the bad taste stops them. Eventually, they stop biting their nails. 

Let's see how you can use essential oils for nail-biting.

Can Essential Oils Stop Nail-biting? 

 Essential Oils

It might sound like a bizarre idea, but essential oils do work to stop nail-biting. 

Well, as I have mentioned above, applying a bitter substance to a child’s fingers will stop him from putting the hand in his mouth. For this, there are many bitter-tasting nail polishes available in the market to stop nail-biting. However, essential oils are a healthier alternative to those chemical-based polishes. 

Some essential oils suitable for this practice are Neem Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Bitter Orange Oil, Clove Oil, and Oregano Oil. All these essential oils taste very bitter and will get your child scrunching their face as soon as they taste them on their nails. Just make sure you choose only 100% pure essential oils and use them sparingly and properly diluted!

Out of these essential oils, Tea Tree Oil is the most commonly used one, so let’s talk about it:

 Tea Tree Oil to Stop Nail-biting

Tea Tree Oil

Given the medicinal benefits it provides to skin and hair, Tea Tree oil has garnered much appreciation from users worldwide. The oil offers many unique benefits, making it a staple in almost every home these days. 

Tea tree essential oil is also one of the most recommended natural remedy for nail-biting in children. All you have to do is to properly dilute the oil with a carrier oil (just 1-2 drops to 1 tablespoon of carrier oil), dab a cotton ball in the blend and apply it to the fingernails and cuticles of your child. If they wash their hands often, you can apply it several times to stop their nail-biting habit. 

Once they learn their nails taste bitter, they will stop biting their nails. While this trick works effectively for children, you can also, of course, try it on adults as well. 


Nail-biting in children can turn into a serious concern if you don’t stop it in time. Considered a nervous habit, nail-biting is most often a sign of curiosity, anxiety, stress, and even boredom in children. If your child has this habit and you want to correct it, you can try using essential oils. And, of course, essential oils can also help you stop biting your nails.

Lavender essential oil

Besides using tea tree for topical applications on the child’s nails, you can also incorporate aromatherapy into your kid’s life to help them relax. Because, yes, even children can be stressed. Diffuse 1-2 drops of a gentle, calming oil, such as lavender, in your child’s room, whenever necessary. Make sure you do your homework and only use essential oils that are suitable for kids. And, of course, use them sparingly. 

Shefali Chautala

Shefali Chautala is a professional content creator, reviewer, and a lifelong learner who loves to write about stuff she finds interesting. Always curious to learn about new things, Shefali combines her curiosity and knowledge to create content that is valuable for the readers.

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