Yes, in extreme cases.
Nail biting is a common habit. Stressful situations or plain boredom can trigger people into nibbling at their fingers. It may seem like a harmless quirk, but it can lead to serious consequences — like amputation.
Dr. Oz talked to TikToker Lauren from Texas, who posted a video about how her nail biting habit almost led to her middle finger being removed.
How Nail Biting Can Lead to Amputation
The nail is made up of the bed, the surrounding soft tissue and the cuticle. When you bite your nail area, it leaves the skin red and the underlying tissue exposed and vulnerable. This can lead to fungal infections, which can look blue or green around the nail plate. In extreme cases, the nail can become inflamed and very swollen and may need to be amputated to keep the hand — and you — healthy.
Tips to Stop Biting Your Nails
If you struggle with nail biting, Dr. Oz has some tips for managing the impulse and finding healthier ways to relieve your stress.
Take just 20 minutes a day to get up and move or sit still and meditate. Adding these activities can reduce high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This helps ease your anxiety and helps you feel calm.
Then, shift to a safer habit. When you feel like biting your nails, do this: take your hair tie, bracelet, ring or other jewelry and move it to the other hand. This allows you to use your hands while shifting your focus on from the repetitive behavior of nail biting.
Lauren told Dr. Oz she found an alternative habit too. She now uses a fidget spinner to release her anxious or stressed energy.