Can You Get Worms from Biting Your Nails?

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The habit of biting nails can be hard to shake, but there are plenty of reasons why you should put effort into stopping.

Along with the discomfort of ingrown nails and the unattractive state of bitten off nails, but you may have bitten off more than you can worms!

One negative thing you may have heard about biting nails is that in doing so you may be transferring worms into your digestive system causing stomach problems.

  • But can you really get worms from your nail biting habit?
  • Or is this just an old wives tale your parents would trot out to discourage nail biters?


The answer is yes, you can get worms from biting your nails. Pinworm eggs can get trapped underneath your nails and, when accidentally consumed, can lead to infection of pinworms in your stomach which can cause digestive issues.

Want more detail? We will tell you everything you need to know below:

Can You Get Worms from Biting Dirty Fingernails?

There are lots of unpleasant germs, bacteria buried in your dirty fingernails, and some other inhabitants which you may not initially think of.

One of these is pinworm eggs, which can be transferred from beneath your nails to your mouth and digestive system when you chew your nails.

When you chew your nails you are transferring all the dirt, bacteria, and other detritus directly from your hands to your mouth, something to consider the next time you catch yourself about to start biting!

What Type of Worm Can Live Under Your Nails?

Pinworms are half-an-inch-long, white intestinal worms that can exist in your digestive system.

When you fall asleep at night female pinworms will move down the digestive system to the anus area where they will lay pinworm eggs.

It is these worm eggs that are found under your nails and are transferred to your internal body when you are chewing your nails.

How The Pinworm Gets Under Your Fingernails

The most common way that pinworms get transferred to the underside of your nails is when someone infected with the worms scratches their anal area due to the irritation caused by the worm.

If hands are not washed properly after this eggs can be transferred through common items such as toys, clothing, food, and bedding.

The tiny eggs can even be spread through the air and inhaled.

If you have picked up or handled items that have pinworm eggs on them, you may end up with some trapped under your fingernails, which will then be transferred to your mouth when you bite your nails.

Once they have entered your digestive system the pinworm eggs hatch and the process begins all over again.

Symptoms of pinworm gastro intestinal infections include weight loss, loss of appetite, restlessness, irritation of the skin, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

How to Get Rid of and Prevent Pinworm Eggs Under Your Nails

To get rid of pinworms under your nails you will need to use a nail brush to scrub them with hot, soapy water.

You should also try to keep your nails cut neat and short and make sure that you wash your hands frequently.

You can buy over-the-counter medicines to treat pin worm infections, but you will also need to take action to get rid of the eggs which may have spread around your home.

If you have been infected with pinworms and have received medication you should wash all your clothes and bedding in hot water to kill any eggs which may be stuck to these materials.

Can Other Worms Live Under Your Fingernails?

Although pinworms will mainly be the worms you find have collected under your finger nails, it is also possible that hook worm eggs may be picked up beneath your nails.

Other bacteria, mites, and larvae can also find a home in dirty finger nails meaning that you have lots of motivation to stop biting your nails!

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How to Stop Nail Biting

Although it may seem impossible, there are some steps that habitual nail nibblers can take to stop biting their cuticles. These include:

  • Put on bitter tasting nail polish. Every time you go to bite your nails, you’ll be rewarded with an unpleasant taste that should stop you from biting immediately. Eventually, you’ll learn to get out of the habit completely.
  • Get a squeeze ball, stress bracelet, or other anxiety-releasing tools you can carry around with you. For lots of people, nail biting is one of many nervous habits. When you find yourself beginning to chew your nails, play with your stress ball or bracelet instead.
  • Get a Manicure. If you have paid money to get your nails looking pristine and perfect, you may be less inclined to ruin the look by nibbling on your nails!
  • Keep your nails trimmed short. This will give you fewer nails to chew until you get out of your bad habit.
  • Learn to identify your nail biting triggers. As with most nervous habits, we unconsciously turn to the self-soothing action of nail biting in times of anxiety or stress. If you can learn to identify the things in life which set you off, you can consciously stop yourself from biting your nails at these points
  • Take a gradual approach to breaking the habit. Rather than just setting yourself a blanket ban on nail biting which you won’t be able to keep. Set yourself a goal of not biting your nails for a day, then two days, and build it up. Or you can decide you are only going to bite the nails on your right hand and then once you have kicked the habit on your left hand, move across to your right.


There are plenty of reasons to stop nail biting, and if you are not put off by the potential damage to your teeth, tooth enamel, the increased chance of ingrown nails, nail infection called paronychia and the unkempt appearance of bitten nails – the possibility of allowing pin worms to enter your body and a stomach infection might be the extra motivation you need!

Pin worm eggs can become trapped under your nails and if you are in the habit of biting your nails you may inadvertently transfer these to your mouth and digestive system.

Once in your body, the eggs can hatch and cause various kinds of discomfort, irritation, and illness.

Thankfully you can greatly lessen the chances of allowing pin worms to enter your body by ensuring that you regularly keep your hands and nails clean and work on breaking yourself free of your nail biting habits which lead to worm infection!