There are several reasons to stop nail biting. Biting your nails is a bad habit and I think any nail-biter has been told that it is not good for you.
But why is that?
We all know that it is gross to bite your nails and it does not look good when you do it. And what seems to be a harmless habit may be more dangerous than you think.
Biting or picking your nails can lead to temporary or permanent damage to your actual nail, but what is also important to know is that it may as well cause deceases and impact your overall health.
Let me share some things which may happen and hopefully, it will make you think twice before putting those nails into your mouth again.
1) It can cause skin infections
If you bite off a bigger part of the nail you can uncover the skin beneath your nail, leaving it exposed to any bacteria in your mouth. This can cause a skin infection which is called paronychia. When bacteria are entering the skin around or under the nail it can cause severe damage. Symptoms of paronychia are swelling and redness around the base or the sides of the nail. The finger becomes very sore to touch with and at times the skin becomes yellow-green in color, indicating that a collection of pus has formed under the skin.
If you leave the infection untreated it can damage your entire finger.
2) It can cause dental damage
Chronic nail-biting may damage your teeth and overall oral health. Nails are often hard and when biting them they can cause your teeth to get tiny chips or fracture your enamel. In many cases it may cause deformed teeth as they are worn down and it can lead to teeth shifting out of place.
It can be even worse if you are wearing braces. If you are adding additional stress to the braces, it can weaken the roots and ruin the outcome you were expecting.
In more rare cases nail biting can cause TMJ, which is a pain in the muscles and ligaments you use to chew or pain in the joints.
3) It can cause gum disease
Your fingernails are almost twice as dirty as your fingers and when biting your nails you invite those bacteria into your mouth.
When you bite your nails, there is a risk of bitten or loose hanging nails tearing into your gum tissue, which over time can trigger a gum disease such as gingivitis.
Gingivitis is a common gum disease that causes irritation, redness and swelling around the base of your teeth. It is important to take this seriously as it could lead to a much more serious gum disease, if not taken care of.
4) It can give you facial warts
Nail biting very often creates small breaks in the epidermis, which is the protective outer layer of our skin. This allows pathogens, including HPV (Human Papillomavirus), to get in.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. And while it is usually harmless and goes away by itself, some types can lead to genital warts.
A study has shown that HPV has been found under men’s fingernails. Through nail-biting the virus can be spread to lips and mouth, causing facial warts.
5) You can get a stomach virus
When you are biting your nails you are at higher risk of getting sick and you may get a stomach virus.
The bacteria which is entering your mouth is being picked up when you are touching things, shaking hands etc. and you bring it straight into your mouth.
For disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, the spaces beneath your nails are the perfect place for them to live. These bacteria can make you sick, cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
6) It can cause ingrown nails
Most people think about toenails when they refer to ingrown nails. But nail biting can lead you to get them on your fingers as well.
When you bite your nails below the free edge or down the sides, you create a good environment for ingrown nails. When the nails grow out again, they may grow into the flesh instead of over it and this could result in an ingrown nail.
Ingrown nails can get you a bad infection and in severe cases, surgery is needed.
7) It makes your nail to be deformed
When you are biting your nails it can lead to damage of the lunula, which is the part of the nail where your nail grows. You can get lines and bumpy ridges which do not look good and if you are biting your nails down too far it may cause permanent deformation or may not even grow back.
8) It can give you bad breath
No one wants to have bad breath but nail biting may be one cause for the bad odor. When transferring bacteria from your fingers to your mouth this may give a bad smell coming from your mouth.
9) It can have psychological effects
Apart from the physical damage nail-biting can cause, it may also have psychological effects on you, such as stress. You know that nail biting is not good, but you can´t stop. That gives you stress. And to relieve some of that stress, you bite your nails. Catch 22!
Knowing what this bad habit can do to your health it should be a reason alone to just quit! And it should be an easy task, but having bitten my nails for many years, I know it is easier said than done.
“But trust me, it is possible to stop your nail biting! I did it after 35 years of nail biting”
Check out my article about how to stop biting your nails and hopefully you will be one step closer to healthier nails and a healthy body!