People chew their nails for all kinds of reasons: stress, anxiety, excitement and boredom to name a few. Up there with nervous habits like thumb-sucking, biting your nails is one of the bad ones. If you’re a nail-biter (or know someone who is), here are 12 gros reasons why you need to quit cold turkey:
1. There are a lot of germs living under your fingernails
A lot of bacteria lives under your nails. Chewing on them puts that bacteria directly in your mouth. One specific germ found under nails is Staphlococcus aureus, which can cause skin infections like boils and abscesses. If your immune system is already compromised from kids and office coworker germs, you may be more at risk to getting sick.
2. It Increases The Risk Of Paronychia
Paronychia is an infection of the nail. Symptoms include, “a painful, red, swollen area around the nail, often at the cuticle or at the site of a hangnail or other injury. There may be pus-filled blisters, especially with a bacterial infection.” Eww.
3. It Could Lead To Permanent Deformation Of Your Nail
Chewing your nails for months or years can lead to trauma of the lunula, the part of your nail bed where your nail grows. Temporary or permanent damage can occur, causing your nail to get bumpy ridges or lines.
5. It Could Mess Up Your Teeth
Remember the thousands of dollars your parents spent on straightening your teeth with braces? Constant chewing of your nails can cause them to shift out of place, according to Everyday Health.
5. Chewing Leads To More Bacteria
Sucking and chewing on your phalanges can cause even more bacteria to grow, as the area is consistently moist (ick, another word I hate). A study from 2007 proved that people who chewed on their nails had more bacteria (like E. coli, E. cloacae and E. aerogenes) in their mouths than those that didn’t.
7. You Could Develop Swollen Gums
Not only can the added bacteria in your mouth affect your gums, but repeatedly putting something that’s half chewed and shredded against your gums can cause them to get irritated and swollen. Dr. Charlene B. Krejci reportedly had a patient with fingernail fragments under a tooth, causing gingival injury.
8. It Could Make Warts Spread Faster
Warts are in the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. Chewing on nails with warts (and then chewing on other fingers) can cause them to spread.
9. You Could Develop Bad Breath
More bacteria in your mouth = bad breath. It’s simple math, really.
10. Your Nails Could Grow More Slowly
They grow slow enough, why would you want them to grow any slower?
11. Nail Polish Harms Your Hormones
In our story, Study: Chemical Found In Nail Polish May Disrupt Your Hormones, we discovered that 49% of nail polishes contain Triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP. This is bad news for nail biters because “TPHP causes endocrine disruption, meaning that it interferes with normal hormone functioning.”
12. It Can Lead To Oral STIs
Wait, what? That’s right. According to ScienceDirect, chewing or biting your nails can lead to sexually transmitted infections of the mouth, like Herpes. Noooooooo!
Had enough? Now go out there and stop biting your nails!