While you’re scrolling through social media, watching TV or reading emails, your finger tips will often find its way between your teeth, causing you to nibble away for a while before catching yourself.
As a child, you were scolded for doing that and even though you did it unconsciously sometimes, you managed to try to catch yourself. You were often worried and embarrassed with how your nails appeared afterwards. To save themselves the embarrassment of having ugly fingernails, most folks use artificial nails.
But how dangerous is biting your nails?
For starters, the nails harbour germs. The most common kind found there is a family known as enterobacteriaceae. This includes E.coli and salmonella species. When you get your nails into your mouth, germs are transferred from the nails to your stomach and your gut. In the gut, they are capable of causing gastrointestinal problems that could lead to abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
People who bite their names extremely may suffer from what is called paronychia. With all the biting, you may cause abrasions or tears in your skin through which strains of bacteria or yeast could get in. This will lead to a puss buildup, swelling and redness below and around the nail. Sometimes, it would have to be drained or treated with antibiotics or antifungal agents.
If your nails get tender and painful, then it is most likely a bacterial infection. You’ll also notice that your fingertip is inflamed.
Dangers Of Biting Your Nails
Warts Due to HPV Infections
Human papillomavirus is responsible for the occurrence of warts. It is a common condition for folks who are chronic nail biters. In such cases, warts grow on your fingers and could be spread to your lips and mouth if you keep biting your nails.
The nails are an ideal location for bacteria(more specifically, under the nails) . This includes bacteria that are pathogenic e.g. E.coli and Salmonella.
As you bite your nails, these bacteria are transferred from the nails to your stomach and the rest of your body. They eventually lead to infections.
The fingernails are often twice as dirty as your fingers as they’re more difficult to keep clean.
There’s an unresolved idea that people who bite their nails have stronger immune systems and do not get sick as often. The idea is that since there are pathogens under your nails, these pathogens are introduced into your body and your immune system, causing the immune system to react and build defences, this is similar to what happens when people eat their boogers.
Impaired Quality of Life
According to a recent study published, chronic nail biters have a greater impairment on life quality than people who do not bite their nails. This impairment continues to increase as time spent on nail biting , number of fingernails bitten and nail abnormalities increase.
Some of the impairment could come from tension from trying to not bite nails and suffering from several conditions as a result of nail biting.
We’ve talked about paronychia, an infection that happens around the nails. While you bite your nails, abrasions and tears could occur. Through these tears and abrasions , bacteria, fungi and other pathogens could get in and lead to redness, swelling and pus.
It could be drained surgically.
Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are one of the most common nail problems.
Nail biting can affect your dental occlusion or the way your lower and upper teeth come together when you close your eyes mouth.
With extreme nail biting, your teeth could shift out of their proper position, wear down, become weakened and misshapen. According to statistics, frequent nail biters could spend a fortune on dental bills over the course of their lifetime.
Can lead to gum injuries
Frequent nail biting could lead to teeth root damage, oral injuries and oral infections as a result of the risk of scraping the gum.
How do you stop biting your nails?
Manicure more often
We suggest you get a beautiful manicure done. Of course they can enhance your confidence and have you receiving compliments all day, but beyond that, it will stop you from biting your nails. When the urge comes, you will most likely not want to ruin your manicure.
Keep Your Nails Short
If you prefer not to give yourself a manicure, then maybe you should cut your nails short. With your nails extremely short, there’ll be nothing to chew on.
Use Gloves Or Nail Stickers
You could also use nail stickers or gloves. That way, with your mouth being unable to find your nails, the urges to bite the nails become less and less.
Keep Them Busy
Keeping your mouth and hands busy will keep yourself from biting your nails. Whenever you feel the urge to bite your nails, chew gum or do something else with your hands, that way, you won’t be able to bite your nails as they will busy along with your mouth.
Keep A Check On The Triggers
This is probably the most effective way to stop biting your nails. Identify what triggers you to bite your nails. It could be when you’re bored, anxious, angry or nervous. Studies show that people often resort to biting their nails when they’re stressed, hungry, bored or nervous.
Use Bitter Nail Polish
You could take your manicuring to a whole new level and use nail polish that is bitter. When you apply bitter-tasting nail polish, you definitely would not want to have your nails close to your mouth. This trick has been used for decades by people who found it helpful.
Try the Gradual Approach
It’s impossible to stop biting nails overnight. It needs to happen gradually and with time. So, recommend you give yourself time. Start with one fingernail at a time, maybe your thumb. With time, extend the restriction to your index finger, then your middle finger and the rest. In no time, you will find that you have gradually and successfully gotten rid of the habit.