Nearly everyone on the planet Earth has nibbled on their nails at one point or another—but for one teenage girl, the habit nearly resulted in the amputation of her finger.
In a recent TikTok video, 18-year-old Lauren Nichols, a college student in Texas, shared that she almost lost her fingertip after she contracted an infection from biting her nails. "To my fellow nail biters, stop what you are doing," she began the video, which has been viewed 9.2 million times since she posted it on January 17. "I almost had to get the tip of my finger amputated because I bite my nails."
nail biting infection . "[My doctor] told me that he has to amputate the tips of people’s fingers because the infection gets too bad and that I’m lucky I came when I did,” she told the website.
Luckily, the procedure helped her recover without having to endure amputation. It also inspired her to quit her nail-biting habit and share her experience with others in hopes of educating them about the potential dangers.
nail biting infection . It's common and occurs after an injury to the area—like from biting or picking at nails, or trimming or pushing back the cuticle. The infection itself is caused by bacteria, candida (a type of yeast), or other types of fungi, that can enter an open wound.
The main symptom of paronychia is typically a painful, red, swollen area around the nail, mainly at the cuticle. With a bacterial infection, there may also be pus-filled blisters, according to MedlinePlus. The area around the fingernail, and the fingernail itself may also have an unusual color. If it's not caught quickly, the infection can spread to the rest of the body, possibly causing fever and chills, joint pain, muscle pain, and a general ill feeling.
RELATED: This Woman's Dip Powder Manicure Resulted in an Infection—Here's How That Can Happen
Treatment varies on a case-by-case basis, often depending on the severity of inflammation and infection but can include drainage, topical, or oral medications—or even removal of the nail or amputation if the infection is severe enough.
In addition to not biting your nails, MedlinePlus recommends not picking the skin around them or trimming your cuticles, to prevent infection. It's also important to protect nails from exposure to detergents or chemicals by using rubber gloves, and to bring your own manicure tools to nail salons (and not let a manicurist trim your cuticles)—or at least make sure the salon uses proper sanitizing techniques.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter