As if you needed another reason to finally stop biting your nails.
Biting your nails is a common nervous fixation — but as one man in the U.K. found out, it can quickly become more than just a bad habit.
Luke Hanoman, a father of two, developed sepsis and nearly died all because of a small cut on one of his fingers caused by biting his nails, reports The Sun.
“I used to bite my nails all the time. It was nervous thing,” the 28-year-old told the British newspaper. “And one day I bit the skin down the side of my nail. It hurt a bit but I didn’t think anything of it.”
Later that week, he developed some scary symptoms. He couldn’t focus, he started having cold sweats, and he was shaking. His finger swelled up and began throbbing. At first, Hanoman thought it was just a viral infection and that he would be able to “sleep it off.”
After going to bed on a Friday night, he slept until 2 p.m. the next day, when his mother came to check on him. At this point, Hanoman had developed a high fever and red lines all over his body, which can be a sign of infection. His mother called the National Health Service, and she was advised to get her son to a hospital immediately.
Hanoman ended up spending four days in the hospital last July being treated for sepsis. Now he’s speaking out to help raise awareness about the condition.
“They told me I was lucky to make it so long. I was close to septic shock,” Hanoman told The Sun. “The doctors and nurses were really good. They didn’t tell me how bad it was because I think they were trying not to worry me too much. When I was feeling better they told me I was lucky to be alive.”
Sepsis can occur when a bacterial infection in a person’s body rages out of control, triggering an immune system response that can lead to organ failure and tissue damage. Without proper treatment, sepsis can progress into septic shock, a life-threatening condition. Symptoms of sepsis include elevated heart or respiratory rate, difficulty breathing, clammy skin, confusion, and abdominal pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. More than 1.5 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with sepsis every year, and about 250,000 Americans die from sepsis annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk, almost any infection can lead to sepsis.
“I had no idea what sepsis was and I had no idea about the symptoms to look out for,” Hanoman told The Sun. “There needs to be a lot more awareness. I think it’s important people know that it can target anyone at any age.”
If you’re a nail biter and Hanoman’s story has you wanting to finally kick this bad habit once and for all, the American Academy of Dermatology has some tips on how to stop biting your nails. First, keep your nails trimmed short and replace nail-biting with another compulsive habit, like playing with a stress ball. If you can afford it, try to get regular manicures, as spending money offers extra motivation to keep your nails looking pretty.
Finally, use a product designed to help you kick the habit, like a bitter-tasting polish. Mavala Switzerland Stop Nail Biting Formula ($15, amazon.com) has thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, and is safe for both kids and adults.