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Why Biting Nails Can Seriously Harm Your Health

Why Biting Nails Can Seriously Harm Your Health

First of all, I sincerely apologize to my nail biting readers for being a spoilsport, but there is nothing I can do about it. This article will only show you all the cons of this horrible habit of yours, because there are no pros that I can find, or science can find.

The medical term for nail biting is onychophagia. According to psychiatrists, this is categorized under an impulsive control disorder where you can’t control the urge to resist a temptation, urge, or impulse that may lead to harm you in some way. Psychiatrists also believe that this is an act of obsessive compulsive disorder. Anyone can bite their nails. It is believed that 45% of teenagers tend to do this. At times this will roll over into adulthood and become a lifelong habit. There are even extreme cases where professional help is required.

Nail biting usually occurs when a person is suffering from stress, anxiety, or nervousness. Such feelings trigger the person to automatically chew on the nails to attain calmness. Now, is it the only way to calm yourself, or is their any alternative solutions? Of course there are. And before we answer that, here are the horrifying facts that will explain why you should stop biting your nails.

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1. Your nails are full of germs.

No matter how many times you wash your hands, germs will still live under your fingernails. Because among all other body parts, your hands, meaning your fingers which have nails, come into contact with surfaces of all types. The thing is, your fingers may stay clean, but your nails aren’t. So when you are biting your nails, you are also biting on the earthly bacteria, germs, yeast, etc. Yum!

2. You are transferring the bacteria into your mouth.

So what happens after chewing on your delicious germs and bacteria? You are carting them from your nails to your mouth. Once they are inside your mouth, they will eventually enter your digestive system. In 2007, a group of Turkish scientists experimented on 59 people, combined of nail biters and non-nail biters, to see whether they transport bacteria to the mouth. After swabbing each person’s saliva, the results were quite alarming. 76% actually transported E. coli, and similar germs, compared to 26.5% of non biters. E.coli is responsible for diarrhea and vomiting.

3. In extreme case, you can end up with oral STIs.

It is not only commuting E.coli and other bacteria, in extreme cases, you may end up with oral STIs. If you are a nail biter, and one fine day you notice herpes, or blisters on your lips, don’t fret. They are the results of your nail bacteria that you have successfully transferred to your mouth.

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4. From bacteria in your mouth to dental damage.

When you are constantly gnawing down your nails, your teeth are clicking together. This results in tooth fracture, tooth chips, and in rare cases, tooth loss.

5. For biters who wear braces, brace yourself!

Those of you who wear braces, you are risking yourself into tooth resorption, meaning your body cells are reabsorbing its own cells, and tissues. There is also a possibility that your braces might break down which would force you to undergo expensive and potentially painful dental treatment.

6. You’ll end up having stinky breath.

Stinky breath occurs due to bacteria in your mouth and saliva. When you are continuously biting your nails and transferring different bacteria, they are prone to permanently stay inside your mouth. This leads to stinky breath, which, no matter how many times you wash your mouth with fresheners, the foul breath will never go away.

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7. You may have pus in your fingernails.

What happens when you bite your nails? You leave the nail bed exposed. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, can enter the open pores and build pus around the nails, causing nail abnormality. This pus is a horrible business. It can be cured through pills, or has to be drained out through surgery.

8. Polish your nails, but don’t eat them!

Nails look beautiful with nail polishes. But if you are prone to eat them, then stop using them. Because polishes contain harmful chemicals, and some varnishes contain formaldehyde, the chemical that is used to embalm dead bodies. If this information isn’t enough scary to put you off, then I don’t know what is.

9. In the end, your nails will never grow back to normal.

Nails are formed on nail beds, and never-ending biting will eventually ruin your nail bed. Your once long nails will gradually shorten, and at one point, will no longer grow any further. The nail’s surface will tear off as well, looking awful, and embarrassing for you to publicly show off.

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So, how can you ever stop?

Now, you know what harm you are doing to yourself through this horrendous activity. Previously, I have mentioned that there are solutions to stop biting nails. Well, first of all, try to stay relaxed and avoid too much stress and frustration. If you can’t, or not allowed to, then indulge yourself to physical exercise/activities that releases stress. You can go for manicures. That will make you feel guilty of spoiling your beautifully trimmed, polished nails. Put some nail polish and imagine the harm you are doing by biting into the varnishes.

And if you really want to chew on something then try sugar-free chewing gum. They might help you! Just stay away from biting your beautiful nails because when you do that it shows how anxious you stay all day. In public places with people around, it might not be a pretty sight.

Featured photo credit: PathDoc via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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