A teenager has ditched nail-biting for good after she nearly lost her fingertip to an infection caused by the common habit.
18-year-old Lauren Nichols from Texas said she didn't think much of it when her finger became a little tender after a nail biting session.
"At first I didn't think it was anything serious, but it kept getting worse, " she told People of her recent scare, which saw her admitted to hospital for surgery in mid-January.
Nichols had contracted paronychia, a nail infection "caused by trauma to the cuticles."
The university student documented the progression of the infection in a TikTok video. The video showed a first image of her left-hand's middle finger taken on January 8, with a small lesion and some redness visible.
She captioned the video, "Plz watch... it could save your finger's life."
We're then taken on a visual journey of the infection's spread, with daily photos showing a dramatic increase in redness and the lesion turning a sickly yellow-green.
By January 11, the finger begins to swell alarmingly.
The final photo of the finger on January 13 is followed by a picture of Nichols shortly before surgery, reclining on a hospital bed wearing a blue surgical cap.
"I almost had to get the tip of my finger amputated because I bite my nails," she said.
Nichols went to the doctor after the infection became painful and was prescribed a course of antibiotics which proved ineffective. With the infection spreading, she was admitted to hospital for surgery where doctors managed to remove the affected flesh without - thankfully - the need to remove Lauren's fingertip.
Since her operation the teenager admits the habit has been a tough one to break and has purchased a fidget spinner for those times she gets the urge to gnaw on her nails.
"I've always been a more anxious person, and [nail-biting] is one of the ways I've coped," she said.
"It's still kind of tender to the touch, so if I ever start trying to bite my nails or think about it, it's still there as a reminder to not."
Lauren said her recovery has been straightforward.
"It's good now, my finger looks a little weird but it healed fine... I definitely still think about it, but I've stopped myself many times because that was not a fun experience."
With an estimated 20 to 30 per cent of people being nail biters of varying degrees, Lauren warned that it can happen to anyone at any time.
"Just because it hasn't happened before, doesn't mean it can't happen to you. I'd been doing it for years and this is the first time I had serious consequences," she said.
"If you do get paronychia, take it seriously because it can get a lot worse very quickly."