Nail Biting… Is There Actual Health Risks?

I have always been a nail biter.  As far back as I can remember, I have always gnawed on my nails, a terribly annoying habit.  The life of a nail biter isn’t always easy, and anyone else who has this chewing habit will understand.  Its such a hard routine to break and it seems to be almost on the addictive level.  One time, my Grandmom even bought me bad tasting nail polish made specifically to break the habit.  That lasted for all of maybe two days until I got tired of polishing my nails every morning which was one of the weirdest things ever.  At this point in my life, I have come to terms with it, knowing I could have far worse habits.  That doesn’t mean nail biting isn’t harmful to your body because it definitely is.  Chewing your nails indeed creates all different kinds of health problems as well (as people telling you to stop all the time or how bad your fingers look).

The Cause

Nail Biting seems to arise early on in life, and stress and anxiety seem to be the problem.  I consider myself an overly stressed person so this comes as zero shock to me or probably anyone else reading this who bites.  According to WEB MD, nail biting is even labeled under forms of OCD and its shown correlations with ADHD in kids, however good trials have not been conducted to assume total causation.  My reason for writing this particular blog is that I wanted to know more about the health effects if there were any.  From biting so often, I really did not think that this small annoyance could actually cause more harm than it does.  Also here are some interesting statistics on the population according to Thomas P. Connelly, D.D.S.: 30 percent of young kids bite their nails, 45 percent of teens do, and it continues to DECREASE from there also hinting at large causality to stress.



The Gross Part

If you aren’t grossed out enough by this, this sure will make you cringe.  These are all directly correlated with persistent nail biting.  Getting sick is the most obvious, being that our hands are extremely dirty, and washing them does not always mean under the nails. Germs can also enter through the breakage of skin that it causes. Dental problems have been linked as well as finger warts (HPV), and the emotional issues that I mentioned earlier.

So it seems this might be a habit worth trying to break after all.  After researching this, I became way more disgusted by this overlooked habit than I already was.  There is pretty good reason to believe these correlations and to at least try to quit even though it will not be easy by any means.

Stop Biting


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6 thoughts on “Nail Biting… Is There Actual Health Risks?

  1. sjb6039

    I have bitten my nails for years and it is the worst habit. I noticed that both my mom and I bite our nails, so I wonder, could nail bitting be genetic? Could it be possible that nail biting could run in the family and be passed down from parent to child?

  2. Colleen Bridget Mcshea

    I have never had this problem myself, but my dad and sister have struggled with this bad habit for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my dad literally bites his nails down to nothing but a thin line and then it hurts him horribly! They both bite them almost all the time, but my sister has told me that she definitely tends to do it more when she is stressed about something. As much as my I tell them both that they need to stop, they just can’t seem to break the habit. My sister actually invested in this type of nail polish that is clear, but tastes horrible, so it prevents you from biting your nails. She said it definitely helped her a lot, so if you also struggle with this habit, here is a link to the polish! Maybe it can help you too!

  3. Casey Andrew Schaum

    I used to bit my nails but the habit seemed to stop out of nowhere. The problem it that I started messing with my cuticles instead. I still tend to bite a nail or two here and there while doing home work but that’s it. I never knew that it could lead to getting sick but that definitely makes sense. Penn State will get you sick by itself, so I don’t need anything else getting me sick.

  4. Olivia Helen Dearment

    I’m glad you posted this because I am so guilty of this habit. I cannot even remember a time where I wasn’t chewing my nails while my mom screams at me to stop. The bad part is I don’t even notice myself doing it. I think it first arose from stress. I used to be, and still am, a worry wort, and nail biting has been evidence of that. I have tried the nail polish, getting my nails done, and even thinking about all the dirt and bacteria that I could be putting into my mouth, and here I am still biting my nails one by one. I have even seen my little sister doing it… I have become a bad influence! Hopefully sometime soon I can gain some self control and stop this gross habit.

  5. Melanie Dawn Weltner

    I used to be a really bad nail biter myself until eventually I started another habit that replaced it. I think one of the most detrimental parts of biting your nails, aside from getting sick, is the dental problems that arise because certainly constantly gnawing on your nails which are kind of tough has to be doing something to your enamel. Here is an article that highlights the risks of nail biting associated with your dental health.
    It could be nail biting is a lot more harmful than I thought before.

  6. mzf15

    Nice post Alex! Let me tell you, you are not alone on that one. I have constantly bit my nails for years and I always have my mom screaming, “Stop that! Soon you’re not going to have any nails!” I never knew that this habit could be linked to stress. I think that is certainly true, everytime I get ready for a big exam I am always biting my nails prior to getting to the class. I can totally relate!

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