To Your Health: Nail Biting Can Carry Health Risks

Sep 5, 2018

You know it’s a bad habit. And yet, there you are stuck in traffic and you find yourself trimming your fingernails…with your teeth.

Up to 50 percent of us will chronically gnaw our nails at some point in our life, according to a study from the University of Calgary. But, nail biting is more than unattractive. It can carry health risks too.

The Mayo Clinic reports that nail biting can:

  • Increase the risk of colds and other infections by encouraging the spread of germs from your fingers to your mouth, including warts caused by HPV.
  • Crack, chip, wear down, or otherwise harm front teeth from the stress caused by biting
  • Damage the skin around the nail, increasing the risk of infection.

Bacterial infections caused by nail biting are actually one of the most common nail problems, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

So how do you quit the habit? For a lot of people, nail biting is a manifestation of stress or psychological disorders. They may need to seek the help of a therapist. For others, getting a manicure, chewing gum, or carrying a nail clippers to keep them trimmed short might help. Perhaps just knowing that keeping your fingers out of your mouth can keep you healthy will also be an incentive to stop nail biting!

Resources:
http://cpj.sagepub.com/content/29/12/690
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/nail-biting/faq-20058548
http://time.com/2946800/bad-to-bite-nails/
https://www.aad.org/public/skin-hair-nails/nail-care/nail-biting
http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2012/10/01/161766321/nail-biting-mental-disorder-or-just-a-bad-habit