Nail biting has long been considered one of the worst bad habits you can develop, but all that might be about to change as a new study has revealed that having a cheeky chew might actually be good for you.
Researchers in New Zealand have found that children who bite their nails or suck their thumbs are less likely to develop allergies than those who don’t because all that under-nail bacteria we’ve been so long warned off actually seems to have a strengthening effect on the body’s immune system.
The investigation – which has been published in the Pediatrics journal – is based on the hygiene hypothesis which states that the more germs and bacteria you are exposed to in childhood, the stronger your immune system is likely to be in adulthood.
The study – which involved 1,000 people – assessed thumb sucking and nail biting habits at ages five, seven, nine and eleven and tested for allergies in 13 and 32-year-olds.
Almost one third of the children involved were found to be regular thumb suckers or nail biters and these children were significantly less likely to be allergic to dust mites and pets in their teens than their non-nail biting counterparts.
This effect was also found to last into adulthood but does not apply to asthma or hay fever at any age.
While there are still obvious disadvantages to biting your nails, the study does show that even the worst of habits can have their benefits.
Feat image: Maxcure Hospitals