You bite your fingernails at work, at home, and even while driving down the road in your car. You chew them so often that you can’t remember the last time you needed to cut them with a pair of fingernail clippers. If you can relate to this maddening scenario, you’re not alone.
According to WebMD, approximately half of all kids and adolescents bite their nails. Many people continue this habit into adulthood. Children whose parents chew their nails are more prone to taking up the habit themselves.
Interestingly, research suggests this phenomena occurs even if parents quit biting their nails before their kids are born. If you’re a serial nail biter, consider quitting the habit as soon as possible. If you don’t, one or more of the following health issues may ensue.
According to Medical Daily, 28-year-old Brit Luke Hanoman recently almost died due to an infection known as Sepsis. The infection apparently occurred as a result of Hanoman accidentally biting the skin down the side of his nail. When the incident happened, he felt pain, but wasn’t worried.
When he began experiencing flu-like symptoms, swelling in his fingers, a high fever, cold sweats, and red lines all over his body, Hanoman knew something was seriously wrong. Physicians informed Hanoman he was lucky to have survived the infection due to how close he was to experiencing septic shock.
All wound-like openings on your body are avenues for bacteria to enter and cause an infection. Tears on the skin of fingertips are especially susceptible to yeast and bacteria accumulating inside. When this happens, redness, swelling and the build-up of puss can follow. At this point, surgical draining or antibiotics may be needed to avoid the situation Hanoman found himself in.
During the course of your day, your hands are infiltrated with numerous types of germs. Even if you wash your hands often, stuff can still get lodged under your nails. When you put pathogen laden nails into your mouth, you’re increasing your odds of succumbing to a mind-blowing amount of illnesses such as the common cold or a serious stomach virus.
If you bite your nails frequently, you increase your risks of breaking a tooth and damaging your tooth enamel. Chewing on your nails can also cause your teeth to shift out of place resulting in the need to wear braces or a retainer. The germs on your nails can irritate or infect your gums too.
Do you have one or more warts? Picking at a wart can cause some of its transmittable substance to get onto or under your nails. When you touch your face or neck with polluted nails, warts might develop on these areas of your body.
According to Prevention, an estimated 40 percent of adults have oral herpes. When people who have the virus bite their nails, they can infect their fingers with it. The condition is known as herpetic whitlow. Initial symptoms of this problem include a painful tingling and burning in the affected fingertips. After one to two weeks, painful liquid or blood filled sores might ensue. These bothersome sores may linger for weeks.
Your nails consist of a generative layer referred to as the matrix. Biting you nails, or the infections that sometimes result from this habit, can harm this matrix. This damage can lead to chronic ingrown nails.
When you bite your nails, the bacteria present on them or your fingers can remain in your mouth. This bacteria can cause halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath.
While nail biting might seem like a harmless habit, it can lead to serious—and gross—health issues. If you’re ready to kick the nail biting habit, consider keeping your nails cut short. You might also benefit from coating your nails with a bad taste. You can purchase nail polishes consisting of a bitter flavor you can paint on your nails. Wearing gloves is also a smart idea. If your lifestyle makes wearing gloves impractical, putting stickers on your nails is an alternative.
Keeping your hands and mouth occupied can reduce nail biting tendencies. Squeezing a stress ball, rubbing a worry stone, clicking a pen, and chewing gum are all good options. A doctor or mental health professional can help you discover what is triggering nail biting behavior. Once a behavior has been identified, ending your love affair with nail biting might be as simple as taking steps to manage stress better.
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