Nail biting, technically called onychophagia, may seem innocent enough but you are actually doing yourself some real damage.
1. There are all sorts of germs under your fingernails.
Your fingernails are almost twice as dirty as your fingers. They are a perfect catch all for all sorts of dirt and debris. When you chew on your nails, this bacteria can be transferred into your mouth.
2. You are basically sucking and chewing on bacteria.
In an experiment carried out by Turkish scientists back in 2007, 59 people were tested to see whether nail biting had any real effect on transporting bacteria to the mouth. Each persons mouth was swabbed for diarrhoea and vomiting bacteria such as Escherichia coli and many other similar nasties. The findings were that 76% of those who bit their nails tested positive, compared to just 26.5% of non-biters. So the message is clear. If you don’t want stomach ache and diarrhea all week, get your fingers out of your mouth!
3. You are most likely causing yourself dental damage.
What you see as a little bit of nail biting could actually be causing your teeth a whole lot of damage. As you bit the nail, your teeth can click together which when done repeatedly day in, day out can lead to tooth chips, damage and even tooth loss.
4. You may be poisoning yourself.
For female biters who wear nail varnish, by biting your nails you are actually poisoning yourself. Nail varnish and other nail polishes contain toxins which are not designed to be ingested. It may take a while for the toxins to build up so much that they actually badly poison you, but do you want to run that risk?
5. Biting nails can lead to oral STI’s.
Although rare, there have been occasions where biting nails has let to an oral STI such as herpes being passed into the mouth. Once this happens you will be susceptible to cold sores which lets admit it, don’t look too great.
6. It can make your breath STINK!
According to a particularly unpleasant report, sucking on and biting your fingernails can lead to halitosis which is another name for really bad breath. Your mouth does contain a large amount of bacteria in the first place but it is designed to do so. If you keep adding new bacteria picked up under your nails, you can upset the balance and release some real pongs.
7. Your fingertips could turn into a pile of pus.
People who bite their nails often also chew and peel off the bits of skin around the nail. When you do this, you are exposing the wound to bacteria. As we know the nails gather lots of bacteria which can then cause pus to collect in the wound. The scientific term is acute infective paronychia and it can only be cured with pills or by draining the finger of all that gross pus.
8. You are openly broadcasting your anxieties.
Biting your nails is associated by psychologists with feelings of stress, anxiety or even shame. Whether or not this is the reason you are biting yours, this is the perception you will be giving off to others. It looks bad and does you no favours socially so it really is time to stop.