Call it nervousness or a bad habit, but this habit of biting your nails can be harmful to your health. For starters, biting your nails can raise your risk of catching a cold or other illnesses because many times, people are putting their unwashed hands in their mouths. It can also raise the risk of paronychia, or infection of the skin surrounding the nail, says Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., a dermatologist at the Mayo Clinic.
You can “end up with redness and swelling and pain and discomfort — that’s a sign of infection,” Torgerson tells HuffPost. While most instances of paronychia are bacterial, they can also be fungal.
In addition, if you have a wart, biting your fingernails is a way to raise your risk of spreading warts to other parts of your hands. That’s because warts are caused by one of the many kinds of human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus that spreads as an infection. “The more open skin you have, the more you’re going to spread” the virus, she says.
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