RESEARCH suggests that 30 per cent of children, 45 per cent of teenagers, 25 per cent of young adults, and five per cent of older adults bite their nails, with the aesthetic consequences being the most obvious.
For some people, the social stigma and embarrassment as to the look of their nails causes them to become depressed, isolated, or avoid activities they would otherwise enjoy. Beyond this, however, are there other health reasons to worry if you regularly bite your nails?
Your nails are an ideal location for bacteria to thrive, and that includes potentially pathogenic bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli (which would love to call the underside of your nail tips home).
As you bite your nails, those bacteria easily transfer into your mouth and the rest of your body, where they may lead to infections. Your fingernails may actually be twice as dirty as your fingers, considering they’re difficult to keep clean, making this a prime point of transfer for infectious organisms.
Nail biters are susceptible to paronychia, a skin infection that occurs around your nails. As you chew your nails, bacteria, yeast, and other microorganisms can enter through tiny tears or abrasions, leading to swelling, redness, and pus around your nail.
Nail biting can interfere with proper dental occlusion, or the manner in which your upper and lower teeth come together when you close your mouth.
Your teeth may shift out of their proper position, become misshapen, wear down prematurely, and become weakened if you bite your nails over time.