Whatever You Do, Do NOT Bite Your Nails!


            I see people all the time with dirt under their nails and men/women with long nails. I see several people on a daily basis biting their nails which is a gross habit. I see those who bite their nails even with dirt under them too. Every time I see this I want to gag. What is living under those nails that you just put in your mouth? 

           First off keratin is a protein that makes our nails flat and hard. This substance also creates our hair and "the top layer of our skin". Even in the womb we have finger nails/toenails. Our nails actually begin in what's known as the nail root. This is located under our skin behind the cuticle. The cuticle is where the nail touches the skin and the lunula is the "pale half circle just above the cuticle". Our nails continue to grow because new nail cells grow under our skin and force the old nail out. Under our nail is called the nail bed; it's made up of blood vessels that keep our nail healthy and that give it a pink tint. Our fingernails grow 2.5 millimeters per month and this is why it will take three to six months to replace a whole nail once you lose it. To keep our nails healthy it's recommended that we cut our fingernails and toenails straight across and to regularly put lotion on our nails and cuticles to add moisture. ("Your").


Dr. Anthony Hilton, a microbiologist from Aston University, held a study of nail clippings from fifty-five women and forty-five men. He had found enterobacteriaceae under 24% of men and 15% from women. Enterobacteriaceae causes vomiting, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis and is usually found "in the guts of animals or humans" ("Quarter"). Another study done by Dr. David Katz from Yale University swabbed several students with different fingernails lengths. He let the bacteria grow for three days in which he concluded the short, painted nails had the least bacteria under them. Unlike those with long unpainted nails, who had the most bacteria. Nails that are shorter are able to be cleaned easier and nail polish has a few chemicals that includes the chemical formaldehyde, which actually decreases bacteria growth ("Biting"). In another study it was found that "infectious outbreaks in neonatal intensive care units were linked to long nails". Eighteen health-care workers were tested and the study concluded that longer nails contained bacteria compared to 18% of the health-care workers who had shorter nails. Klebsiella, a bacteria that causes pneumonia, urinary tract infections, and a yeast that can cause blood stream infections were found under several of these nails. This is very scary especially when the workers help those who are already ill and vulnerable ("Study").


Onychophagia also known as nail biting occurs in about 45% of teenagers. Nail biting could be caused by stress, anxiety, OCD, or just a habit. When biting your nails you put all the bacteria under the nails into your mouth and gums, let alone possibly creating infection in your fingers by breaking the skin when biting. Nail biting can also damage your teeth by weakening and wearing down the enamel on the teeth ("Mouth").

            Many of these studies need more people to be involved in the tests to have stronger results. Also many third variables can play a role like the jobs of students and the environment they live in at home that can affect the bacteria under their nails. As you have read biting nails are not healthy so here are some tips on how to stop.

Works Cited:

"Biting Your Nails Part 2." Huffpost Healthy Living. 30 Nov. 2013   <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/stop-biting-nails-_b_604665.html>.

"Mouth Health: The Dish on Biting Your Nails." Huffpost Healthy Living. 30 Nov.  2013 <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/mouth-health-the-dish-on_b_574866.html>.

"Quarter of Men Have Germs Lurking Under Fingernails." Mail Online. 30 Nov. 2013 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-472410/Quarter-men-germs-lurking-fingernails.html>.

"Study Links Long Fingernails and  Bacteria." ABC News. 30 Nov 2013     <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/story?id=117161>.

"Your Nails." KidsHealth. 30 Nov. 2013 <http://kidshealth.org/kid/htbw/your_nails.html>.

Photo of dirty nails:


Photo of woman biting nails:



Danielle, good post, I enjoyed reading your posts i never knew biting your nails could do that to you.

As a result of this post, I decided to look into the difficulty of defeating habits. It is very hard to eliminate habits, whether it is biting fingernails or smoking cigarettes, people struggle with habits through out their life time. In an article produced by Washington University of St. Louis at http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/4230.aspx, the topic of habits is discussed. The article talks about good and bad habits and how they are created through our memory. However, in relationship to your post, the article particularly talks about habits as a result of stress. Biting your fingernails is often associated with nervous situations. "Stress can weaken our control over memory and behavior, so that those automatic, habitual responses from the past become more influential. With control weakened, those automatic responses — such as eating a cookie or smoking a cigarette — can override our new good intentions." Even if you are trying to break a habit, stressful situations automatically bring you back to your bad habits. This is just another thing to think about when dealing with habits.

I found your article very interesting. I could not agree more with you that biting your nails is just a horrible habit. I think its so disgusting, and when I see a chewed off nail lying around I could just throw up! Reading your article made me realize how bad it actually is for you which is very interesting. I did not know that nail polish could decrease the amount of bacteria on your nails, but after reading it, it does make a lot of sense on how that could be true! Now I know why my mom would always smack my hands out of my mouth when I would try to bite my nails!

The title of your post really startled me, I am constantly biting my nails. I have always been aware that biting my nails may not be the most sanitary thing to do, but it's such a difficult habit to break and I wash my hands regularly. So I was wondering if my hand washing habits were enough to keep me safe from my nail biting habits. According to Daily Mail it "takes 15 to 20 seconds of vigorous hand washing with soap and water to effectively kill the germs which cause infections." It's tough to say how long I actually wash my hands for every time, but I think that it is close to this time. I try to stay conscious about cleaning not only the surface of my hands, but also under my nails because I know how much I bite them. My finger nails usually don't get long enough, but if I notice them start to collect a lot of dirt I will just wash my hands. I know that bacteria are impossible to see, but I think that if you consistently wash your hands and keep your nails noticeably clean biting your nails isn't that bad for you; and that's not just me trying to justify my bad habit.

As someone who sometimes bites their nails out of habit, this blog will definitely help me to be more self-aware now that I know how bad it is to bite them. In fact, when I was younger, my mother used to put a bad tasting liquid on my nails to prevent me from biting them. I especially did not realize all of the bacteria that lives under our nails and the negatives that could result from biting them. I will definitely try to prevent myself from biting my nails as much also so that I can benefit from some of the positives of healthy fingernails.

Ew. I'm really, really thankful I never had this habit. Recently, psychologists have placed nail biting in the 'obsessive compulsive" category- but not all who bite will be diagnosed with it. "As with hair pulling and skin picking, nail biting isn't a disorder unless it is impairing, distressing, and meets a certain clinical level of severity," Dr. Carol Mathews, M.D., a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, told Women's Health.

I completely agree with this. Biting nails is something that really grosses me out since hands are not always clean. I know it's a habit that people can't keep their selves from doing it but it's completely unsanitary. Nail biting causes serious nail problems since it cause the nails from forming. It also can be a cause of serious mental issues. Here's an article. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nail-biting/AN01144

I bite my nails often. I never really thought about what other people thought about it mainly because I don't think about it when I do it. I find myself dozing off and next thing you know I am biting my nails. It's not something I plan to do or maybe it's just in my subconscious. The General Practice Notebook from the UK found these risks to nail biting:
damage to the cuticles and nails, dermatological problems of fingers such as melanonychia, self-inflicted gingival injuries and gingival swelling, dental problems such as increased incisal wear and apical root resorption. In addition, osteomyelitis has been reported in a phalanx as a result of chronic nail biting.

Maybe I will think about it twice now before I bite my nails again.


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