The way we maintain our nails reveals a lot about ourselves. Well-manicured hands with neat and pretty nails are attractive any day. The nail biters, on the other hand, have nails that are chewed-off edges. Right from childhood, nail biting is a behavior that’s always discouraged. It’s not only a gross behavior but scientific studies claim that it can affect your health adversely in many ways.
Many people who bite their nails get away with the excuse that they are doing it to calm their nervous selves. Psychiatrists associate this behavior alongside obsessive compulsive disorders like skin picking, hair pulling, which are also known as pathological grooming. This seemingly harmless habit can affect your health adversely.
5 Ways Nail Biting Is Putting Your Health At Risk
1. Allows The Transmission Of Disease-Causing Bacteria
Your fingers are all over the place and so your nails are comfy breeding grounds for bacteria to thrive. The most dangerous ones like Salmonella and E. coli are present right below the nail tips and cause infections like typhoid and diarrhea.1
Many of us don’t take the effort to keep our fingernails clean, thereby making them much dirtier than our fingers. When we chew nails, the saliva easily mixes with grime and germs and enter our body through the mouth leading to harmful infections.
2. Recurrent Fungal Infections
Nail biters suffer from paronychia, the fungal infection of skin surrounding the nails. When we chew, the frequent exposure to moisture allows yeast and other microbes to flourish in the cuticles. The microbial infestation is marked by pus collection, swelling, redness, and pain around the nail.
Acute and chronic paronychia demands medical or surgical intervention depending on the severity and is a very common condition amongst chronic nail biters.2
3. Warts Due To HPV Infections
Viral warts caused by HPV 1, 2 and 4 are the most common nail tumor. It often affects children above the age of and is frequently seen in adults too. These are known are periungual warts and can spread to the lips and oral cavity of people who have the habit of nail biting.3
4. Causes Dental Problems
In chronic nail biters, the upper and lower front teeth often have chipped or crooked edges. The pressure from biting nails can even lead to malocclusion and sensitivity. Many nail biters have to make frequent visits to the dentist to seek treatment for their sensitivity, cavities, and misshapen teeth.
Researchers even found out that in chronic nail biters the chances of injuries to the gums are increased. This kickstarts a vicious cycle of gingival swelling that leads to damage of the supporting structures of teeth.4
5. Impaired Quality Of Life
Studies have proved that chronic nail biters are people who got easily worked up or bored; suffered from an undisciplined childhood or have a lot inwardly turned hostility.5
People who bite their nails often are reported to be more impaired in their social behavior and quality of life than those who didn’t bite nails.6
Nail biting is a socially disapproved behavior. It is best to kick the habit before it negatively impacts your health.
|↑1||Baydaş, B., H. Uslu, I. Yavuz, I. Ceylan, and İ. M. Dağsuyu. “Effect of a chronic nail‐biting habit on the oral carriage of Enterobacteriaceae.” Oral microbiology and immunology 22, no. 1 (2007): 1-4.|
|↑2||Rockwell, Pamela G. “Acute and chronic paronychia.” American family physician 63, no. 6 (2001).|
|↑3||Tosti, Antonella, and Bianca Maria Piraccini. “Warts of the nail unit: surgical and nonsurgical approaches.” Dermatologic Surgery 27, no. 3 (2001): 235-239.|
|↑4||Krejci, Charlene B. “Self-inflicted gingival injury due to habitual fingernail biting.” Journal of periodontology 71, no. 6 (2000): 1029-1031.|
|↑5||Coleman, James C., and Jean Elizabeth McCalley. “Nail-biting among college students.” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 43, no. 4 (1948): 517.|
|↑6||Pacan, Przemysław, Adam Reich, Magdalena Grzesiak, and Jacek C. SzEPIETOWSkI. “Onychophagia is associated with impairment of quality of life.” Acta dermato-venereologica 94, no. 6 (2014): 703-706.|