We've got some good news for anyone guilty of thumb sucking or nail biting. Turns out, those "bad habits" may very well have done you a favor over the years, at least according to a recent study published in the Pediatrics journal.
The study was based on the "hygiene hypothesis," which states that the more exposure you have to bacteria and germs—especially when younger—the more resilient your immune system as an adult. Basically, those that carried the habit of biting their nails or sucking their thumbs were less likely to suffer from allergies.
Since fingers are prime breeding ground for microbial organisms, it makes sense that putting fingers in your mouth is a good way to ingest those organisms. Though, we have to admit, it still doesn't sound great...
The study, which surveyed a little over 1000 people ages newborn to 32, found that of kids who frequently bit their nails or sucked their thumbs had a lower risk of "atopic sensitization"—AKA a reduced sensitivity to allergens—in their adolescence and adulthood.
Those who did both had an even lower risk compared to those with only one of the two habits. Only 31 percent of the children in this group reportedly suffered from sensitivies.
So what conclusions are we grabbing from this? Well, for starters, we're not about to lick our fingers after getting off the subway, but it is an interesting study. We've also been told that biting our nails isn't exactly great for manicure health. And given the fact that this study was done on children, it isn't necessarily applicable for your day to day life. And as always, if you have any questions about nail biting habits and your health in general, you should call up your doc!