Biting your fingernails is a bad habit that can be riskier than you might think. One of the dangers of nail biting is a fungal infection of the fingernails. So, the next time you start biting your nails because you’re nervous or bored, think carefully about the problems it can cause.
Most people bite their nails due to nerves or stress. Eventually, it becomes an unconscious habit. If you’ve done it for a long time, you may not even realize how often you do it. It’s more common among kids, but it can follow you into adulthood or develop because of specific stressors.
Other factors make nail-biting an issue. Not only is it unattractive to watch, but it can make your nails look dirty or jagged. Nail biting can even put you at a higher risk of illness. If you’re putting your fingers in your mouth, you could be spreading bacteria and become sick.
It’s likely that you’ll damage the skin around your nail, opening up your risk for infection. If you tear open your skin, it can also be painful. It’s easier to stop biting your nails than it is to treat an infection after it has started.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Most Common Triggers for Nail Biting
- 2 Can You Get a Fungal Infection from Biting Nails?
- 3 What Happens When You Bite Your Nails Too Much?
- 4 Fingernail Fungus Treatment
- 5 Home Remedies for Fingernail Fungus
- 6 How to Stop Biting Nails
Most Common Triggers for Nail Biting
Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common triggers for biting your nails.
Anxiety can affect people in a variety of ways. It may occur if you notice one of your nails is ‘uneven’ somehow. Even if you’re in public, once you see this, it can make you feel uneasy.
So, you start to bite your nails, so they all look the same. It helps to ease your nerves and make you feel less anxious.
Understanding the types of stress that can cause the problem is a good idea so you can put a stop to it. It’s impossible to get rid of stress altogether, but it’s important to be able to manage it.
Think about the things that are piling up in your life: Maybe you have a big presentation coming up at work or a test tomorrow at school. Has your worrying caused you to start pulling and picking at your fingernails, and then pulling at them with your teeth?
Even if you don’t feel overly stressed or anxious, the opposite sort of feeling can also contribute to nail-biting. Some people start pulling on their cuticles and nails out of sheer boredom.
One of the most common places is in the car, waiting in traffic, or even at home watching television. You may not be conscious of what you’re doing when you’re bored enough to pull at your nails.
Can You Get a Fungal Infection from Biting Nails?
This is an infection of the skin that surrounds your fingernails and toenails. Signs include redness, swelling, and even pus-filled blisters that can form around the nail.
Paronychia can either be bacterial or fungal. It depends on the type of germs that affect the nail. Some of the other common causes of infection include:
- Submerging your hands in water frequently
- Getting regular manicures
- Clipping your nails too short
But, one of the most common reasons for this problem is biting your nails. It can be especially risky if you pull off a large piece of your nail from the skin. When fungi have a chance to get into these open areas of skin, a fungus can form. Unfortunately, a fungus spreads quickly and easily. So, once those germs have a chance to get into your skin, it can be difficult to get rid of the infection without aggressive treatment.
What Happens When You Bite Your Nails Too Much?
If you regularly bite your nails, you should be warned about the potential of getting a fungal infection. Usually, this happens because when you bite your nails, you’re not only taking off pieces of the nail itself. You’re also removing some of the surrounding skin and cuticles.
Your cuticles protect your nails from things like dirt, debris, bacteria, etc. When your cuticles become damaged, or pieces of them are taken away, it’s easy for a fungus to move in. Once the fungus managed to get through the nail bed, it can spread.
This can lead to things like discoloration, a bad smell coming from the nail, and more. In some cases, the nail may even start to look brittle. If it’s not treated correctly, it may need to be removed.
Other conditions that can occur from frequent nail-biting include:
Did you know that your saliva is designed to break down food molecules, fats, and more? Your fingers are no exception to this rule. Your saliva can damage the skin of your fingers, causing it to erode and become inflamed.
Bacteria can affect your fingers from your mouth. But, the bacteria from your fingers going into your mouth can be much worse. Think of all the things you touch throughout the day. Most of the time, we don’t even realize how many germs are on nearly everything we come in contact with.
Unless you are regularly washing your hands, those germs stay on your fingers. When you put them in your mouth to bite your nails, you put yourself at risk for a lot of different illnesses. It could be something as simple as the common cold, or something more serious.
3) Ingrown Nails
There is a layer of your nails called the matrix. When the matrix becomes damaged due to biting, you might start to experience a recurring ingrown fingernail.
These can become quite painful and irritating. Other types of nail deformities are also a possibility.
4) Oral Health Issues
Biting your nails can eventually wreak havoc on your teeth. It can damage the structure of your teeth and push them out of alignment.
Because your nails are so robust, they can also rub away the enamel on your teeth. Once that enamel is gone, you can’t get it back. Teeth without enamel are more prone to decay and chipping.
It’s bad enough to have your fingers in your mouth. But, if you’re able to pull your nail off and it sits in your mouth for even a few seconds, it could cause even more damage.
Your fingernails are sharper than you might realize. It doesn’t take much for the nail to be able to scratch your gums. If that happens, your gums could become swollen and red. You could pass Paronychia into your mouth from your nails.
Fingernail Fungus Treatment
Fungus won’t go away on its own. It needs to be treated for it to be fully cured. The longer you go without treating a fingernail fungus, the harder it can be to get rid of completely. If you have a fingernail fungus from biting your nails, treat it as soon as you see symptoms.
Thankfully, there are many good ways to treat fingernail fungus. One of the most popular solutions is to use an over-the-counter treatment designed to kill fungal infections.
A topical solution like Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal Treatment can help to clear up your infection. If your fingernail fungus is causing discoloration or other unsightly symptoms, this treatment can help to get rid of them. You can use it directly on the nail itself.
But, if you’re biting your nails and the surrounding skin, you’ll want to use a treatment option that is safe on your skin as well as the nail. One solution is Zane Hellas Fungucept. It’s an all-natural solution that can be used on both the nail and surrounding skin.
Not only will it help to clear up the fungus, but it will also keep it from spreading to other areas. This is due to the active ingredient, Carvacrol. This is effective on several types of fungal infections. It will keep it from growing and kill it off completely.
Home Remedies for Fingernail Fungus
If you want to get rid of fingernail fungus at home, there are a few useful home remedies you can try. It’s vital that the solutions you choose contain antifungal properties. They need to be safe for both your nail and the surrounding skin.
Some of the most popular home solutions include:
1) Baking Soda
Mix 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda in with a cup of apple cider vinegar. Soak the infected nail(s) for about 15 minutes before rinsing off and drying thoroughly.
Baking soda will help in different ways. First, it will balance the pH levels of your skin. It can also help to get rid of bad odors caused by fungus and keep the infection from spreading. The apple cider vinegar will attack the fungus itself.
2) Oregano Oil
This is used in some natural OTC fingernail fungus solutions. But, you can use it on your own at home. It has antiviral and antifungal properties. It also contains antibacterial properties so that it can deal with other infections as well as fungus.
To use oregano oil safely, add a couple of drops into a tablespoon of olive oil. Apply directly to the nails with a cotton ball. There is no need to rinse away.
3) Coconut Oil
This is a potent antifungal agent. To use it on your fingernails, you only need to rub it all over your nails. It’s easiest to do this in a softened or melted state.
There is no need to rinse it away, and you can use it several times a day. It will also help to moisturize your hands and fingers and create a barrier against the fungus spreading.
4) Tea Tree Oil
This is one of the most popular home solutions. It has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. To use it, add a few drops of Australian tea tree oil into a tablespoon of olive oil or another carrier oil. You can apply it directly to your infected nails.
How Long Does It Take to Treat Fingernail Fungus?
Whether you use an over-the-counter treatment or home remedy, it’s important to keep it up until the infection is completely gone. A fungus can be strong and will keep coming back unless it’s treated. How long it takes for it to go away depends on how long you let it go before you started to treat it.
Typically, it takes several weeks for a fungal infection to go away. If you stop treatment early because you notice symptoms improving, it still can come back. A good rule of thumb is to keep treating the infection for a few weeks even after the symptoms have gone.
If the infection has become too severe, some remedies may not work as well. Pay attention to how damaging your symptoms look. In some cases, the nail may fall off on its own or may need to be removed by a doctor. If you have been using a treatment consistently for several weeks without results, see a doctor for a different treatment plan.
How to Stop Biting Nails
It’s important not to let nail-biting become a habit. Try to ‘catch’ yourself whenever you do it, so it doesn’t become something that you do mindlessly. One way you can kick the habit before it starts is to hold yourself accountable. You can even ask friends or family members to point out to you whenever you’re biting your nails.
But, if it’s already a habit for you, there are things you can do to train yourself into quitting:
- Keep your nails trimmed: It can be less tempting to chew on short nails than longer nails. You’re also less likely to pull off large pieces of the nail and surrounding skin.
- Spend money: Try investing in an expensive manicure from a reputable salon. If you spend a lot of money on making your nails look great, you may be less likely to ruin them right away.
- Find another habit: If you bite your nails out of stress or boredom, try replacing this bad habit with a better one. You can try squeezing a stress ball, for example. Find something that keeps your hands busy and away from your mouth.
- Use bitter nail polish: There are nail polishes on the market that are safe to use and non-toxic but have a horrible bitter taste. Try painting your nails with this kind of polish, and you’ll regret putting your fingers in your mouth each time!
- Learn your triggers: One of the best ways to stop biting your nails is to figure out what triggers you to do it in the first place. If you bite them when your nails don’t look right, or when you’re bored, create a plan that helps you turn away from this bad habit. The more aware you are of what triggers you, the easier it can be to stop.
Some people recommend using things like hot sauce or other bad-tasting chemicals on your fingers. But, this is inadvisable. Some substances can damage your nails and the surrounding skin, breaking them down. If you choose to put something on your fingernails, make sure it’s non-toxic and safe for your skin and your mouth.
There is no guarantee about what might develop when you bite your nails. As you can see from this guide, there are a variety of different conditions and problems that can occur. A fingernail fungus can be dangerous, unsightly and embarrassing. But, it’s not the only problem you should worry about when biting your nails.
We hope this guide has given you some insight on why you should stop biting your nails if you already have this bad habit. Use Kerasal Fungal Nail Renewal Treatment to put a stop to it. If you do, you can save yourself from damage to your teeth and possible fungal infections.