If you’re not one of those people that are nail biters, you definitely heard of someone that is. Scientifically known as “onychophagia,” nail biting is a pretty common habit that most people do without even noticing it. The American Academy of Dermatology claims that nail biting usually starts at some point in childhood and is continued throughout adulthood.
It’s an unconscious habit that you practice during other activities and, if it’s not stopped, it can prove to be very harmful to your health. Here are some side effects of nail biting, and believe us, they go beyond the cosmetic area.
- It will spread germs
Just imagine how many things packed with bacteria you touch every day. The bus pole, money, even the keyboard of your computer, everything you touch passes bacteria, yeast, fungus and many other dangerous germs to your mouth. When you shove that unwashed nail in your mouth, you transfer the germs and poof! Infections. Nails are said to be an ideal place for E. coli and salmonella, and they also increase the risk of herpes infections and warts.
- It makes you prone to nail infections
Try looking at it this way: biting your nails basically means you’re tearing apart your nail. In doing so, you make tiny abrasions or tears around your skin near the nails, which will make it easier for bacteria and other germs to enter the wound. Long story short, you can say “hello” to a nail infection! The result will be swollen skin, redness or even pus around your nails. And the only treatment for that will be to stop biting your nails.
- It can cause dental problems
Imagine biting onto a hard surface, on and on. It can interfere with your dental occlusion, and the teeth might end up shifting from their original and proper position. Plus, over time, nail biting can also cause chips, cracks, or wear down of your front teeth, along with gum problems.
- It can lead to stomach problems
Remember those germs that get transferred from your nails to your mouth? Well, they can easily move along to your gut. Once the microbes settle nicely inside the stomach, they cause gastrointestinal infections which can lead to diarrhea and pain in your abdomen.
- It damages the nail beds
Just like your teeth form and shape had to suffer by nail biting, so do the actual nail beds. Aside from making you prone to nail infections, biting your nails can damage the nail beds along with the cuticles. It can also lead to a shortening of nails that is irreversible.
‘Old habits die hard,’ but if you care for your health, you have to find some ways to stop your nail biting habit. You can try this by cutting your nails short to reduce temptation or use some bitter nail polish – anything to stop your hand from going to your mouth. Just like one would do to a newborn to stop sucking on their fingers. Baby habits need baby techniques, right?