The most noticeable effect of nail biting is obvious: hurting and often times bleeding nails, nailbeds, cuticles, and surrounding skin. There are other effects which are not so evident, but will crop up over months or years of nail biting.
Dental damages can be devastating on one's confidence and wallet. Nibbling on nails can lead to chipped teeth or in worse cases, cracked teeth. Constant, long term nail biting can also “lead to poor dental occlusion, so the biter’s teeth shift out of position or become oddly shaped,” says Richard Scher, M.D., an expert on nail disorders at Weill Cornell Medical College and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology. Even fixing a single chip can cost in excess of $200. Braces to fix alignment can range anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000!
More common in kids with developing bones and joints, fingers can become crooked from frequent pressure put onto one place. This happened to me growing up, and even still they are a bit oddly shaped. That's me at 16 by the way.
Simply put, nail biters are at higher risk of getting sick. All of the bacteria we pick up everyday from shaking hands, touching banisters, and opening doors is going straight into your mouth. The introduction of E. Coli into your body can cause stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Staphylococcus aureus is the most common cause of the staph infection, and can lead to painful abscesses which will require medication, and in rarer cases, surgery.
Along the same lines as getting sick, nail biting can lead to acne and blemishes around the mouth. All of the dirt and oils you pick up throughout the day make it onto your mouth area, and can cause white heads or swelling. These can be painful and take a long time to dissipate.
The psychological effects of nail biting presents a vicious cycle. Biting nails causes stress, and stress can make you bite your nails even more. If you need someone to talk to about other stressors in your life, please reach out to a friend, family member, or medical professional.
The nail biting cycle is pervasive and can have longer lasting effects than just painful nails. If you or a loved one is suffering from the nail biting habit, please share these effects, and encourage them to find a healthy and positive way to overcome their habit. Read through other posts here to find helpful tips and support.
Keep up the great work with your #NoBiteNovember progress! Together, we can break the nail biting habit.