Man's Sudden Death Blamed on Extreme Nail Biting Habit

There's a reason bottles of nail polish that taste like arsenic fly off shelves. A great many of us are guilty of biting our nails when we're nervous, bored, or feeling insecure, and just as many of us are willing to apply what tastes like poison to our hands in order to get ourselves to stop.

Well, if you count yourself among those whose hands always look disastrous as a result of your bad habit, there's another -- far more important -- reason why you should quit pronto: nail biting can cost you your health or life. John Gardener, a 40-year-old soccer referee, bit his nails so badly they bled and led to an infection that turned septic, causing him to suffer from a fatal heart attack.


Doctors say Gardener bit his nails for so many years that he no longer felt pain in his fingertips, so it became even more difficult for him to stop. He suffered from anxiety and depression in recent years, which only caused him to bite his nails more as a source of comfort. He was diagnosed with septicaemia in September and was admitted to a hospital to receive a round of antibiotics, but doctors were unable to save one of his fingertips. It had to be amputated as a result of the bad infection.

The man was also diabetic and had his lower right leg amputated in the past because of leg ulcers, but the fatal heart attack he suffered is being blamed on the infection that began as a result of his nail biting.

What a horrifying, sad, and scary story. We know cases like this are extremely rare, but it still made me stop and think. And you can be sure I scolded my husband, who has been biting his nails since he was 9 and whose cuticles often look bloody and chewed-up as a result. If there's even a chance we can develop a really bad infection -- fatal or not -- from biting our nails, it's enough of a reason to do whatever it takes to stop.

Do you bite your nails? Would this story be enough to make you stop?


Image via Freddie Pena/Flickr

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