These 3 Common Practices Are Horrible for Your Nails, Dermatologist Says

We all have some bad habits, but these could really do damage to your health.

When it comes to bodily health concerns, our nails are not usually at the top of the list. Instead, most of us are far more concerned with how they look. But you may not realize how common it is for people to take part in bad habits that seriously hurt the health of their nails—and their body as a whole. Lindsey Zubritsky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Mississippi, took to her TikTok account @dermguru to warn about some of these common practices that are horrible for your nails in a now-viral video. Read on to discover the three things she would never do to her own nails as a dermatologist.

RELATED: I'm a Dermatologist and I Never Use These 6 Products in Cold Weather.

1
Biting your nails

Shot of a young female experiencing paranoia at home
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It's probably no surprise that Zubritsky cautions against biting your nails. But her reasoning is pretty horrifying! (Watch the video for some alarming images.)

"Not only is [biting your nails] super unsanitary, but our fingernails are a very common place to get warts, and warts are infectious," she explains. "So whenever we're biting our nails, we can transfer those warts to our mouth."

RELATED: What Happens If You Don't Cut Your Toenails for a Month, According to Podiatrists.

2
Picking at hangnails

Woman nervously scratching a hangnail.
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If you think picking at a hangnail is harmless, think again.

"If you do this, it could lead to a wound or open skin into the finger or the nail, which can transfer bacteria into the skin," Zubritsky warns.

According to the dermatologist, hangnail-picking can cause an infection called paronychia—which is the inflammation of the skin around a finger or toenail.

"These are pretty painful and sometimes requires oral antibiotics to treat," she adds.

3
Getting a gel manicure

UV lamp with light for drying nails with gel polish. Woman hand inside lamp for nails on table close up. Red nails dried in the lamp. Girl makes a manicure at home, doing manicure herself, draws.
iStock

While your gel nails may look good, they might not be good for you. Zubritsky says she would never get UV gel nails, because a 2023 study showed that the UV dryers used for this type of manicure can lead to "DNA damage and mutations in human cells, which is one of the first steps in causing cancer," according to the dermatologist.

"More studies are needed to determine just how big of a health risk this is, but I, as a dermatologist, will not be taking that risk," she says.

RELATED: What Happens to Your Nails If You Never Take a Break Between Gel Manicures.

Many people admit to participating in these bad practices.

Manicurist hands in rubber protective gloves holding young adult man fingers on white towel background. Manicure, pedicure beauty salon concept. Closeup. Care about fingernails. Top down view.
iStock

If you've been known to bite your nails, pick at hangnails, or get gel manicures, you're not alone. Zubritsky's video has garnered over 523,700 views so far and earned more than 200 comments, with several TikTok users admitting that they have participated in these bad health habits.

"Not me watching this with UV gel nails," one person responded in the comment section.

Another wrote, "Not me watching this while biting my nails."

But just because these are common practices doesn't mean they're not horrible for your nails. It's never too late to start taking Zubritsky's advice to avoid these mistakes.

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Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance.When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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