How Nail Biting Can Turn Into A Big Problem

In 2018, Ricky Kennedy, a 57-year-old grandfather from Scotland had a near-death experience with sepsis due to his long habit of biting nails.

It came when he least expected it.

“I had bitten my nail like that hundreds of times before so to think it almost killed me is terrifying. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t move. I thought I was having a heart attack and I really did think I was going to die.” he recalls.

While biting his nails, he damaged the nail bed and soon noticed a blister starting to form on his thumb.

He never thought it was serious and went on with his daily activities. What he thought was minimal landed him on the hospital bed for months fighting for his life.

“If it wasn’t for Ghislaine [his 65-year-old wife] phoning an ambulance I would be dead,” says Kennedy.

Imagine feeling perfectly fine, you go about your daily routine and nothing feels abnormal. Then suddenly you feel like you’re getting the flu, only the symptoms are getting much worse by the hour. Eventually, you realize that you don’t have the flu at all, you have something much more severe – sepsis, and to crown it all, biting your nails contributed to it.

Luke Hanoman had the same experience earlier this year. Luke is 28 years old and a father of two. He had a habit of biting his nails and eating the skin lining the side of his nail. By July, the symptoms were already there and he thought it was the flu. It started as cold sweat, shivering, and overheating. It became obvious it was something else, not the flu when Luke’s fingers swelled up and he could no longer focus.

Luke thought he was going to get better, but his mother knew there was something wrong and had him taken to the hospital.

The doctor’s found out his situation was critical as he had a running temperature with red lines spreading all over his body.

He was put on antibiotics and treated for the infection on his finger. He knew better than anyone that what almost took his life was his long habit of biting nails.

Sepsis is a life-threatening disease and can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death if not treated.

There are a lot of preventative measures if you are at risk of contracting sepsis; clean all injuries and cover them up, wash your hands, and always take the flu shot when you have the flu to avoid it developing into sepsis.


“IT FELT LIKE FLU” Dad nearly dies from biting his fingernails – after it triggered killer sepsis infection.” The Sun. Andrea Downey. May 1, 2018.

“Sepsis.” CDC.

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