Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Scientists reveal surprising health benefits to biting your nails

iStock_21156508_XLARGE.jpg

There’s no point denying it; nail biting has something of a bad rep in polite society, doesn’t it?

From exasperated parents to grossed-out friends, nail biters everywhere often find themselves being berated for their bad habit.

But, as it now turns out, there’s a healthy upside to chewing on your talons - particularly if you started the habit as a child.

According to a new study released by the journal Pediatrics, children who suck their thumb and bite their fingernails are far less likely to suffer from allergies in later life.

Scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand followed the progress of 1,037 participants from birth through to adulthood.

Parents reported regularly back on their child’s thumb-sucking and nail-biting habits when they were aged five, seven, nine, and 11-years-old.

Woman biting her nails

Don't worry - biting your nails is apparently a good thing...

Once the children reached their teens, researchers conducted a positive skin prick test – and the results showed that those who had sucked their thumbs or bit their nails were less likely to develop common allergies.

The test was repeated when the children reached the age of 32, and the results suggested that their natural nail-biting protection had remained throughout their lives.

Prof Malcolm Sears, from McMaster University in Canada, said that the results of the study can be explained using “hygiene theory”.

This suggests that early exposure to microbes, or germs, reduces the risk of developing allergies.

He added: “While we don’t recommend that these habits should be encouraged, there does appear to be a positive side."

It’s not the first time that scientists have found evidence to support nail biting; according to a report in NPR.org, many people find the act of nibbling their fingernails to be a form of stress relief.

This was made particularly apparent in World War 2, when the best pilots were revealed to be the nail biters, as opposed to the seemingly “calm and collected ones”; apparently their oral fixation proved to be a valuable method of releasing and coping with stress.

Images: iStock

Related

nail-bite.jpg

Do you bite your nails? Don't worry, it's a sign of perfectionism

rexfeatures_5564397a.jpg

New study shows your heart beat aligns with your dog's

BadBeautyHero.jpg

Break bad beauty habits

Comments

More

Breast cancer survivor marries seconds before running London Marathon

"I stood on the start line and I didn't know if I would make the finish."

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Apr 2017

Here's how to get free cake in London this week

Best be quick though...

by Anna Pollitt
24 Apr 2017

Shocking number of landlords offering sex for rent uncovered in the UK

"Nice room available in London for a girl who enjoys being a dirty little slut"

by Sarah Biddlecombe
24 Apr 2017

Friendships are vital in helping us through hard times, study confirms

When the going gets tough, friends get amazing

by Moya Crockett
24 Apr 2017

The disturbing rise of sex assault ‘stealthing’

If it's not consensual it's assault

by Anna Pollitt
24 Apr 2017

Eighties legends Bananarama announce comeback tour after 30 years

It's the original line-up

by Anna Pollitt
24 Apr 2017

Contraception is an emotional and mental burden for women, study finds

New research argues that men should be sharing more responsibility for avoiding pregnancy.

by Moya Crockett
24 Apr 2017

The 50 funniest feminist comebacks ever to grace the internet

“The day I dress for a man is the day they dress me in my coffin to see Jesus”

by Kayleigh Dray
24 Apr 2017

11 delicious and affordable places for afternoon tea in London

High tea, high style, low price

by Moya Crockett
24 Apr 2017

US school girl campaigned against her school's tank top ban and won

She arrived at school with the words #IAmNotADistraction on her arm.

by Hayley Spencer
21 Apr 2017