Health

Biting Your Nails Could Actually Be Good for You

Published On 07/14/2016 Published On 07/14/2016

According to mom, nail biting is a disgusting personal habit you should never, ever do in public, lest people think you're a barbarian. You look unkempt, and you're eating a bunch of grime and bacteria trapped under there, and who knows where those hands have been? That may be harsh, but some mom lessons are ingrained and hard to break, OK?

It turns out nail biting might actually be better associated with things like "sitting too close to the TV makes you go blind" and "making a face for too long will cause it to stick like that." AKA, lies. Made-up facts that bear no truth. Except in this case, the dangers of biting your nails could actually be beneficial for your health, especially if you did it as a kid.  

Eating nail bacteria means fewer allergies

Well, there's something about biting your nails that bears truth -- there's loads of bacteria underneath. But it could actually work in your favor. A new study out of New Zealand found that kids who bit their nails as children reported having fewer allergies as adults. The same also went for the kids who sucked their thumbs, and it was an even healthier outcome for the weirdos who did both. Hopefully this justifies your traumatic third-grade year.

The best part is that you don't actually have to be an ultimate weirdo by continuing to suck your thumb and bite your nails well into adulthood to retain your allergy resistance. While other allergy-causing factors such as owning a pet and having a family history of allergies factored into the group when it was tested at age 32, it was a relatively small effect.

The findings fall in line with the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests being exposed to bacteria makes for a stronger immune system, and potentially fewer allergies. So maybe it's OK to take it easy on all the hand sanitizer, and not yell at kids whenever you see them stick their hands in their mouths. A few germs here and there actually do the body good, and it will save tons of money on allergy meds down the road. 

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Christina Stiehl is a Health writer for Thrillist who never bit her nails. Now she's paying for it. Follow her on Twitter: @ChristinaStiehl.

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