Short Answer: If you accidentally swallow a fingernail, it will probably pass through your system without harm, but it could also cause choking, bleeding, infection, or obstruction.
A fingernail is a thin layer of keratin that covers the tip of your finger.
Keratin is a tough, fibrous protein that is also found in your hair and skin.
Fingernails help protect your fingers from injury and infection, and also help you perform various tasks such as scratching, picking, or gripping.
If you accidentally swallow a fingernail, it will most likely pass through your digestive system without causing any harm.
Your stomach acid and enzymes can break down the keratin to some extent, and the rest will be eliminated in your stool.
However, there is a small chance that the fingernail could get stuck in your throat, esophagus, or intestines, and cause problems such as choking, bleeding, infection, or obstruction.
This is more likely if the fingernail is large, sharp, or jagged.
This is because fingernails are not meant to be ingested, and they can easily scratch or puncture your delicate tissues.
Fingernails are also full of bacteria and fungi that can cause infections in your mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines.
Some of these microorganisms can cause diseases such as gingivitis, tooth decay, gastritis, or diarrhea.
It is quite uncommon to swallow a fingernail, as most people do not bite or chew their nails.
However, some people may develop a habit of nail-biting due to stress, anxiety, boredom, or other psychological reasons.
Nail-biting is considered a form of compulsive behavior that can be hard to stop.
You can prevent serious complications if you swallow a fingernail by seeking medical attention as soon as possible.
If you feel any pain, difficulty swallowing, breathing, or speaking, or notice any blood in your saliva or stool, you should go to the nearest emergency room.
A doctor may perform an endoscopy, which is a procedure that uses a thin, flexible tube with a camera and a light to examine your throat and stomach.
The doctor may be able to remove the fingernail using special tools or medications.
If the fingernail has caused a perforation or a blockage, you may need surgery to repair the damage.
To avoid accidental swallowing of a fingernail, you should keep your nails trimmed and clean, and avoid biting or chewing them.
You can also use a nail file or a clipper to smooth out any rough edges or corners.
If you have a habit of nail-biting, you can try to find healthier ways to cope with your emotions, such as meditation, exercise, or therapy.
You can also use a bitter-tasting nail polish or a band-aid to discourage yourself from putting your fingers in your mouth.
Finally, remember, a fingernail is not a snack, and swallowing it can be risky.
It is better to keep your nails out of your mouth and in good shape.