What exactly is a hangnail?
It’s a partially detached part of skin from the cuticle. Or a part of the nail that is still attached. Ouch!
You need to take care of a hangnail as soon as possible before it gets worse.
Don’t pull on it! Doing that can cause more tearing of the skin, blood, and a lot of unnecessary pain!
First off, get the right tools for the job. You can use the tool designed for this job which is cuticle scissors like this one, or you can use nail clippers.
Next, wash your hands thoroughly. (You know, soap and water for 20 seconds, and all that.) You’ll also want to disinfect the tools you will be using. I would recommend using rubbing alcohol to sterilize your tools. You certainly do not want to infect your finger! Infection can be extremely painful and cause you to lose a nail (I know from experience).
After you have your tools ready, you’ll want to soak your finger with the hangnail in warm water for 5-10 minutes to soften the skin and nail. You can just use a bowl or a cup with warm water.
Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for: cut that hangnail off! You will want to cut as close to the base of the hangnail as possible, so that it will not continue to tear and cause problems. Congrats, you no longer have a hangnail. But there’s another thing you must do!
You’ll want to protect your nail and finger from infection.
Put on antibacterial ointment and a band-aid.
Want to not have to deal with hangnails again? Prevention is the key. First we have to know what causes them:
What you can do to prevent future hangnails:
A variety of reasons can cause hangnails. A major culprit is dry skin…
… Your skin can dry up because of the environment you live in. Perhaps you live somewhere with little humidity, is dry, and is hot. Cold weather and wind can also dry your skin out. Even things like chemicals and soaps you use can also affect the dryness of your skin.
I would personally recommend Cetaphil Daily Advance lotion as it does an excellent job of keeping your hands hydrated and moisturized, thus reducing the likelihood of developing a hangnail.
If you are using chemicals and soaps, you may want to protect your hands by putting on some rubber gloves so your nails stay out of contact with the harsh chemicals.
Another consideration would be to use softer chemicals that are not as harsh on your skin.
Nail biting is a big cause of hangnails. The nature of nail biting encourages tearing of skin and nails, which can be quite painful. Avoiding this habit will certainly help you to avoid developing hangnails…
… One thing you can do is keep a small set of nail clippers with you, so that your default when the urge comes is to use the clippers. I would recommend you get some clippers that conveniently hold the clippings like this set and keep the available nearby wherever you go.
Acetone used to take off nail polish dries skin out like crazy. Try to find an alternative that doesn’t dry the skin out as badly. And remember to moisturize afterward!
Cutting nails too closely and super close to the cuticle can also cause hangnails. When you clip your nails, make sure that you don’t go too crazy and close.
Injury to your fingers can also cause hangnails. These can be pretty hard to avoid, because who in their right mind would intentionally hurt their own hand? Let’s see how to avoid this:
What you can do is wear protective gloves when you are doing jobs that have the possibility of inflicting damage to your precious fingers. (Things like using a knife, working outside, scrubbing, and the like.)
You’ll also want to know how to maintain your cuticles and nails:
There are 3 parts to your nails you’ll need to care for:
- The eponychium
- The cuticle
- The nail
The “eponychium” is what you probably think of when you hear the word “cuticle”
The eponychium is the skin that protects the growth plate from bacteria. Keep it pushed back as it can stretch out from nail growth. You can use a cuticle pusher tool specially designed for this job that won’t damage the nail.
How to care for the cuticle:
The cuticle is like a glue or tape that keeps a tight seal between the eponychium and the nail. You can scrape off old cuticle that is left on the nail as it grows out with a tool that does not damage the nail.
How to care for your nail:
Keep it nicely clipped, but not too closely. Keep in mind that longer nails can increase the possibility of developing a hangnail. It’s a good idea to trim your nails regularly.
Cuticle oil helps to keep the eponychium hydrated and moisturized:
Let’s look at how to use cuticle oil. It’s great to use after your nail care routine.
First off, make sure that your hands are clean. Then, apply a bit of cuticle oil around the nail. You can work it in a bit with your finger. Let it sit for a couple of minutes before you wipe your hands clean.
So there you have it! You now know how to get rid of a hangnail, as well as how to avoid getting hangnails in the future by taking proper care of your nails.