You’ve probably been reprimanded for your nail biting habit for as long as you’ve been, well, biting your nails. Of course, like many admonishments that made no sense, you decided to ignore this one too. Nail biting does seem pretty harmless after all, and studies show that close to half of all people bite their nails at some point in life.
Unfortunately, we’re about to burst your bubble. Nail biting really is bad for your health and here are some scary facts that will make you rethink the habit.
Risks Of Biting Your Nails
“Debris is easily lodged between the nail & nail bed, increasing the risk of painful nail infections likeÂ paronychia”
While your fingers do carry germs that they come in contact with, the nails work like a perfect trap for debris and germs. What’s even more worrying though is the risk of infecting the delicate skin that is beneath the nail, as it gets exposed to pathogens or bacteria from your mouth.
Paronychia is one such infection that can easily affect the nail bed. The infection can last for weeks and it causes inflammation, redness, pus-filled lumps and severe pain.
“Although this may sound like a minor problem, it can be extremely painful & may require minor surgery”
Ingrown nails refers to the condition in which your nails grow into surrounding skin. While that may not sound so bad, the condition can be exceedingly painful. If left untreated ingrown nails can also become infected and in the worst case scenario you could require surgical treatment to deal with the problem.
“Skin around the nails starts to peel & tear, causing intense pain”
As a nail chewer, you are probably all too familiar with the sight of dry and peeling skin around the nails. This loose peeling skin is described as a hangnail. Nail biters often tend to bite and peel off hangnails as well, causing the skin tears to become even deeper. These are basically open wounds that are then vulnerable to infection and can be extremely painful.
“Nail biting exposes you to a high risk of fungal infections & blisters”
If you bite your nails, you could land up with a fungal infection called paronychia, which affects the skin around the nails. The condition is rather painful with inflammation, redness, and swelling around the nail. Pus filled blisters may also form in the area and the infection can even spread to other parts of the body if untreated.
“In addition to nail damage, you can also experience dental problems, with both the teeth & gums”
Chronic nail biting doesn’t just damage your nails and the skin around it. It also affects your dental health – experts believe that the behavior can lead to deformities in the roots of the teeth, making them crooked. Several studies have also linked nail biting with gum disease or gingivitis.
Aside from the health risks of nail biting, the habit is also frowned upon in polite society. While social norms shouldn’t always dictate your behavior, biting your nails in public can be perceived as a sign of nervousness, anxiety, fear, or low self-confidence. In fact, the habit is often associated with stress. If you do believe that you have a chronic stress or anxiety problem, seek help from a psychologist or counselor.
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