It may or may not have empathizers, but nail-biting, known in medical terms as Onychophagy, is a habit that affects between 20 and 30% of the human population, including 45% of teenagers. It turns out that biting your nails can be dangerous and not only for your health. We have listed some of the main reasons why it is considered something dangerous.
1. Germs! Germs! and Germs!
Your fingers are already a magnet for all types of germs, collecting pieces of each place, person and things you find and fiddle. Now the most significant remedy is to wash your hands with soap. However, regardless of how much you wash your hands, your nails continue to collect and store dust, dirt and grime that can be much harder to remove, even for the diligently clean souls. Every time you bite your nails, you are probably ingesting most of those germs, which can cause throat and gum infections and more.
2. Avoid an infection
Speaking of infections, the various types of germs that accumulate under the nails can be of a more sophisticated variety. You might think that a habit like a nail-biting would be relatively harmless in addition to some throat infections.
Unfortunately, theses germs under the nails may also be able to cause much more serious diseases such as salmonella and E, coli, resulting in severe gastrointestinal upset and causing a mayor disorder throughout the digestive system.
3. Beware of PHV
This is along the same lines as the previous two points. However, another infectious disease that hides under the nails is the disease known as human papillomavirus (HPV). For those who bite their nails day after day, this is a medical condition that you will definitely want to be careful of.
It can be identified by the unique and somewhat painful warts that tend to grow on the fingers of the affected person. This virus can be especially dangerous because once warts begin to grow on the fingers, they can spread to the mouth and lips if you continue to bite your nails.
4. Protect your teeth
Believe it or not, your nails are much harder than you think. For a person who continually bites his or her nails, not only does the calcium in the nails wears out, but also calcium in the teeth. Bitting your nails constantly can weaken your teeth severely and may even cause them to change positions and protrude uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.
As with thumb sucking, the alignment of the upper and lower rows of the teeth can also be adversely affected by this habit, which can become more prominent when the two rows of teeth approach. Biting your nails can also dramatically wear your molars.
5. Restricted movement
Our hands are often the cornerstone of our own existence. We need them to do almost everything in our daily lives. From cooking to cleaning to driving. For someone with the habit of biting their nails, there is always one hand that will be used for work while another is constantly chewing. In simpler terms, if a hand always ends near your mouth, that is one less hand with which you have to do things. In the case of some extreme nail bites that can bite nails until they became a bump, the pain caused by the bad habit can even limit the use of the hand.
6. Biting beyond the nail
It is sometimes difficult to know when to stop. It will start by biting the tips of the nails, but often when there is no nail left, many people with this habit can end up biting the skin around the nails.
This can be especially dangerous as it can create an open wound on the fingers that are extremely susceptible to the accumulation of germs and infections, such as paronychia, that could lead to septic arthritis. Therefore, it is essential not to let this bad habit progress beyond a certain point.
7. Your immune system gets hit
The constant intake of germs experienced by most people who bite their nails can cause some damage to your immune system. The Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California observed that all the bacteria we have in our hands, whether from the doorknobs or toilets, increase your exposure to flu and fever, and rarely, diseases even more severe as Hepatitis.
It is known that people who usually bite their nails experience the common cold more often than people who do not bite their nails. While continuously infected with a cold can weaken your immune system and leave it open to more dangerous ailments.
8. Risks to mental health
One of the biggest obstacles that can leave a habit like a nail-biting is a serious mental problem. The American Psychiatric Association determined in 2012 that nail-biting is a symptom of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
It is believed that nail bitting is another manifestation of OCD, as is compulsive cleaning and repetitive counting. It is important to keep in mind that such compulsions tend to get worse over time and can often increase too much more harmful behaviours, such as scratching your skin and pulling hair. However, you can rest easy knowing that there are simple solutions to overcome this unpleasant habit.
I believe a healthy mind and a healthy body will give us a feeling of well being.
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Thank you for reading!