If you’re feeling nervous, fidgety and unsure of what to do with your mouth and hands, you have plenty of options:
- Chew gum while making an origami paper crane;
- Whistle 2006’s catchiest song while perfecting your Sybil Cut shuffle;
- Work on your vintage Bob Dylan impression by learning how to simultaneously play guitar and one of those neck harmonicas.
Given this trio of scintillating choices, why would anyone choose to bite their fingernails instead?
As we’ve discussed before, your hands are germy, pretty much all the time. By putting them in your mouth to bite your nails, you’re making it easier for these germs to enter your system and potentially get you sick. You’re also opening doors for bacteria and viruses by tearing the skin around your fingernails. Which puts you at risk for infections—among other assorted awfulness. “People who bite their nails are at a higher risk for developing warts on their fingers,” says Kaiser Permanente dermatologist Jeffrey Benabio. “Nail-biting can also damage your teeth and weaken your nails.”
So basically, stop—immediately.
Many women find that getting manicures regularly keeps the habit at bay. But if that isn’t your style, you can try painting a clear, bitter polish on your nails to make biting them less pleasant. Or you can distract yourself by snapping a rubber band on your wrist when you have the urge to bite. If you need more than just a rubber band to get your mind off of your habit, you can try any combination of gum, origami, Peter, Bjorn and John, card tricks or Blonde on Blonde. Whatever it take to keep your mitts out of your mouth.
There’s no such thing as a stupid question—especially when it comes to your body, your health or your hygiene. Send us the things that you’ve always wondered about to firstname.lastname@example.org.