Nail biting is probably one of the common habits of many people. In fact, some of you might do it while reading emails or when watching your favorite TV show. If you think it’s not dangerous, you might want to start avoiding it for some reasons.
First and foremost, nails harbor all kinds of germs. Enteroobacteriaceae is a family of bacteria that includes E. coli and salmonella and it tends to thrive in cozy crevice beneath your fingernail tips. Once you bite your nails, such bacteria will end up in your gut and mouth, where they could cause a gastro-intestinal infection, which results to abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Habitual or long-term nail nibblers may also suffer from a kind of infection, which is known as paronychia. Abrasions or tears in your fingertips’ skin may allow bacteria strains to get inside. Both cause redness, swelling, and puss buildup under and around the nail that should be drained through a surgery and may be treated using antifungal agents or antibiotics.
Nail biting is also referred to as onychophagia or onychophagy, which is an oral compulsive habit. Sometimes, it’s described as a type of parafunctional activity, which is the common use of mouth for a certain activity aside from drinking, speaking or eating.
Although nail biting is common, it can also be considered as an impulse control disorder. But, not all nail biting can be considered as pathological. The difference between normal behavior and harmful obsession isn’t clear always.
How Nail Biting Can Result to Fungal and Bacterial Infections?
If you have ever had a manicure, you have no doubt noticed the gunk that manicurists remove from under your fingernails. That is what you may see with the naked eye. But, imagine the bacteria you cannot see.
The most common pathogens that lurk under the fingernails are Coryneform, Strep, and Staphylococcus bacteria that may enter the body through breaks in the skin and you might ingest them when you are biting your nails. If that is not a good deterrent, think of the ringworm hanging out in your nail tissues as you bite your nails.
How Nail Biting Can Result to Flu and Cold?
There are over 200 cold viruses that float around at any particular time. Even if the risk factors to acquire one include weakened immune system or exposure to somebody sick, you may reduce your chances to catch a virus through keeping your hand away from your mouth. Viruses that may cause flu flourish on one’s skin. Therefore, make sure to wash your hands with water and soap and discourage biting nails.
Nail Biting – How It Can Harm Your Teeth
Nail biting may also damage the gums and teeth. Nail biting may chip, crack or wear down front teeth and can result to sore gums as well as gum tissue damage. If you think mouth guard will help you get rid of your nail biting habit, ask your dentist to minimize the damage it may cause.
Featured Image Source: Flickr @ Daan Verhoeven