Social stigma aside, experts say nail biting could lead to some potentially very damaging health problems.

The bad habit of biting your nails

Many times the act of “eating” or biting nails is usually done without thinking , you can do it while you are reading emails or watching television; you bring your finger to your mouth and put the nail between your teeth, and you start biting it for a few minutes before you even know what you’re doing.

Even though your mother always told you it was a bad habit, you have continued to do it. Therefore, it is necessary that you know the health risks that the act of nail biting represents.

Dangers of nail biting

Richard Scher, an expert on nail disorders at Weill Cornell Medical College and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, points out that nails harbor all kinds of germs . In particular, a family of bacteria called Enterobacteriaceae , which includes Salmonella and E. coli, these bacteria tend to thrive on the nail tips between the skin and the nail.

When you bite your nails, those bacteria end up in your mouth and intestines , where they can cause gastrointestinal infections that lead to diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Long-term, regular nail clippers can also suffer from a type of infection called paronychia, Scher says. Tears or abrasions on the skin of the fingers allow strains of bacteria or yeast to enter the body. This causes swelling, redness, and a collection of pus around and under the nail, which has to be surgically drained and treated with antibiotics or antifungals.

If the finger infection is bacterial, the nail can also become soft and painful, Scher adds .

Nail biting infections

The human papillomavirus also HPV is a common infection among nail-biting people, says Dr. Chris Adigun, a dermatologist at NYU Langone Medical Center . After infecting your fingers, these warts can spread to your mouth and lips.

The dangers of nail biting also extend to the teeth . “Constant nail biting can lead to dental malocclusion, causing the biter’s teeth to shift position or become oddly deformed, they also suffer from higher rates of disease from gum problems and infections.

How to avoid nail biting

So how do you kick the habit? For many people, nail biting is a manifestation of stress or psychological distress .

You can go through several ways to avoid continuing with the bad habit of biting nails and finger tips , one can be to work on the root of the causes that produce stress either with professional help or by overcoming the problem, but there are also Another alternative is to use a liquid that gives the nails a bitter taste so that once you bring your fingers to your mouth you remember that you must immediately remove them from there.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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