Why Biting Your Nails Is More Risky Than You Think

Biting your nails is an easy habit to form and a hard habit to break. But no matter your reason for doing it, you really need to learn how to stop doing it, ASAP — according to experts, continuing to bite your fingernails is way riskier than you think. As Purvi Parikh, an allergy and infectious disease specialist with New York University's Langone Medical Center told The Cut, your fingernails can collect all sorts of nasties, from bacteria, dust, and dirt to debris, oils, and viruses. Yuck! 

And if that's not enough to gross you out, maybe the fact that this all of this gunk can make you sick will. "Every time you touch your face — especially your mouth, nose, and eyes — you're transferring all of those germs. And you can get sick," Parikh explained, warning that biting your nails is, in fact, the easiest way to get an infection. 

Biting your nails can lead to nail damage and deformities

On top of contracting infections, regularly biting your nails can also lead to nail deformation. "From chronic nail biting, you can damage the nail matrix (the tissue under the actual nail) and can have permanent nail deformities like ridges," New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman told Health. You can even damage your teeth, whether they're your natural chompers or artificial ones. "Just as natural teeth can fracture from nail biting, porcelain veneers, and crowns can suffer the same fate," Gigi Meinecke, DMD, a Maryland-based dentist with the Academy of General Dentistry, told Health.

And there's even more bad news for nail biters who wear nail polish. According to Kristine Arthur, M.D., an internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in California, biting nails that have nail polish cause toxic poisoning. "Regular nail polishes have plenty of toxins themselves, but gel polishes have chemicals that are specifically approved only for topical use, meaning they're not meant to be ingested," she revealed.