How to Get Rid of Hangnails and Ways To Heal Them

It’s absolutely fair to say that everyone has got hangnails; at least once in their lifetime, if not on a regular basis. While for some people, hangnails are part of life, others find hangnails extremely annoying and frustrating.

We’ve all seen the memes of how crucially bad a hangnail can become to ruin one’s day, and truth be told, they are indeed a major buzz killer; especially when you try to peel them off and end up with gruesome blood covering your finger like a scene from the movie Saw, which is not very nice, one might say.

This small piece of hangnail can make any grown-up taste a sip of pain; and that pain can taste like hell.

Let’s not talk about how much it hurts even glancing towards lemons when those little pieces of skin are comfortably taking place around your nails.

We get it; we’ve all been there.

And we’re here to let you know that you should never try to rip your hangnail off absentmindedly, as every little move has its unexpected consequences.

Therefore, to better understand how to get rid of hangnails and how to prevent them, you should first have a brief idea on the nature of hangnails, their infection, as well as the causes behind them.

What Are Hangnails?

hangnails

Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Basically, even though the word “hangnail” has the word “nail” in it, hangnails aren’t an extension of your nail, neither they’re part of it.

Mainly, hangnails are small-sized pieces of skin that are torn and jagged. They are found right exactly to the edges of your toenails or fingernails. When it comes to the skin surrounding fingernails and toenails, it appears in layers.

Hangnails happen in the thickened layer of skin that surrounds the nails, which is called the “eponychium”.

Thus, hangnails are different than the condition of “ingrown nails”; which is the case of pain, swelling, and redness caused by a corner of a toenail that proceeded to grow in the area of the soft flesh around the toenails.

Most likely there is no need to worry if you had a few hangnails every once in a while, but consistent hangnails that appear on a regular basis may lead to much bigger problems than just those harmless pieces of tiny brittle tags of skin around your nails.

Infection In Hangnails

Infection in hangnails is highly expected; it can happen as soon as the skin around your nail is teared off, giving an easy access to infection and the various germs, fungus, and bacteria which will accelerate the problem even further.

You might think you’re not exposed to bacteria that will negatively participate in infecting your hangnail; however, these bacteria may be found in your dish water, or merely in cold weather, or in anything that can get your hands to dry.

You also need to know that if your hangnail got inflamed, then most probably it will not only hurt you, but you will also notice some swelling and redness around your nails. You can identify an infected hangnail by the following typical symptoms:

  • Tenderness or pain around the nail area,
  • Swelling,
  • Redness,
  • Bleeding,
  • A warm sensation,
  • A pus-filled blister will be found in the infected area.

You’re not as safe as you think you are; because if the infection in your hangnail is prolonged, then you might experience a discolored nail or even a spread of the infection to other parts of your body; and it’s defiantly something you’d rather live without.

Moreover, if the infection is fungal, you’ll notice gradual symptoms; and you will have to count on fungal treatments in order to reduce the cases of flare-ups.

However, if the infection is bacterial, then the symptoms may appear suddenly.

Therefore, in order to learn how to prevent or to treat an infected hangnails (which is discussed below), you need to better understand what causes them in the first place.

Common Causes of Hangnails

Mainly, hangnails are a result of damage and irritation around the nail area. Following are the common reasons why hangnails annoyingly occur:

1

Dry Hands

dry hands

Hangnails occur in cold weather, basically in winter, as your skin is easily dried out. Hence, anything that can leave you with dried out skin is a major factor in causing hangnails, such as harsh chemicals like soap and detergents.

2

Over Washing

wash your hands

Hangnails can happen when the nails are constantly exposed in water; waterlogged hands, or any moist condition on a regular basis as the case in jobs that require hand-washing a lot, such as, bakers, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders or health workers.

Same thing goes for people who are addicted to using sanitizers; because they actually lead to a faster drying of hands that results in splits of the cuticle.

3

Nail-Biting

nail biting

If you’re a nail biter, you’re more likely exposed to having hangnails. This habit is both bad for your teeth as well as your nail bed as it gets damaged when it’s constantly picked.

4

Protein Deficiency

nail protein deficiency

Since your skin and nails are mainly made of protein, then the deficiency may lead to cracking or tearing; which results in hangnails. So, make sure to follow up with your doctor regarding your protein intake.

Now you have a brief idea why hangnails occur, it’s time to know how to remove them. Read the following steps of how to easily, and painlessly get rid of a hangnail.

Steps To Take For Hangnail Removal

Removing a hangnail can be done easily at home and on your own. Even though it’s a tiny procedure, you need to be careful and you must take some tips into consideration so that you prevent yourself from further complications.

Read the following tips before removing a hangnail:

1

Do Not Rip It Off

It’s so tempting to jump on the idea of ripping that annoying hangnail off your finger as soon as you notice it. However, it is clearly a very bad move. Ripping hangnails off may lead to a much greater risk of getting that area infected and exposed to germs and bacteria.

Unfortunately, most people attempt to rip a hangnail off with their mouths, not realizing that their mouths are full of germs, and that when they do that, they actually participate in infecting their mouths with the germs or infections that are on their hands.

Plus, when you yank a hangnail off, you might as well rip extra pieces of skin along which will uncover your sensitive skin and leave it open to the dirty and polluted hazards of everyday life; you will just make things worse.

Keep in mind that ripping a hangnail off is not as easy as it looks. Most likely, it will hurt you like crazy and will leave you in pain; let alone the bloody mess they might leave you in.

2

Wash and Soak Your Hands in Water

The first thing that you need to do before starting the removal procedure is washing your hands to get them clean and ready.

Plus, you aren’t only supposed to wash them, you also need to leave your hands soaked in warm water for a few minutes; preferably 15 to 20 minutes; doing this, you will let the blood flow increase and you’ll make sure that the area is fully cleansed.

Or you can take a shower and you will come out with soft skin around your fingers.

This step is very necessary to soften the skin around your nail area, because if you tried to remove a dry hangnail, you will lead to only more tearing and ripping.

3

Sanitize

Next, if accessible, apply some alcohol on the hangnail and the area around with a piece of cotton in order to make sure that the area is fully sanitized in case of extra exposure.

Moreover, sanitize the tools that you’re going to use such as your fingernail or toenail clippers or nail scissors by rubbing them with alcohol.

You have no idea how much these tools are filled with germs and bacteria, and the last thing you want for your hangnail is to get infected.

4

Use Fingernail Clippers

After your hangnail is softened and sanitized, it’s time to use your fingernail clippers or skin scissors to carefully cut your hangnail off.

When cutting down the cuticle, you don’t want to go so deep into the skin. You need to cut it at the base, that is at skin level.

Moreover, it’s highly recommended to use a cuticle nipper (such as the ones mentioned below) to cut the hangnail straight. This tool will allow you to clip the hangnail while eliminating the rough edges. Doing so, you will prevent yourself from further infections.

5

Moisturize

This step is very critical as it helps protecting your skin from drying out, which is probably the main reason you got hangnails from the first place. 

So, you need to moisturize the nail bed area using a moisturizer; however, make sure this moisturizer is low on alcohol as well as water content, because they participate in drying out your skin even more.

Your moisturizer can be either a lotion, an antibiotic cream, a bland ointment or anything similar, as it is widely known that wounds heal better when they’re kept moist. We highly recommend CeraVe daily moisturizer.

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Gently massage the moisturizer on your nail bed, and repeat this step multiple times a day, until your hangnail is fully healed.

In addition, you might find yourself in the need to use a bandage to cover up the area in the case of deep hangnails or if you just feel like covering it from germs; keep it covered for a day or two, or until it is completely healed.

In addition, you should keep in mind that if you feel pain and the area is red before removing your hangnail, then most probably your hangnail is inflamed; however, “inflamed” does not necessarily mean that your hangnail is infected.

In that case, using ice as well as over the counter pain medications are recommended to be used when removing a hangnail. These will help reducing the pain and preventing further pain or infection.

How To Treat An Infected Hangnail

On the other hand, if your hangnail is infected; meaning the pain is extremely sever, obvious redness and swelling, as well as the previously mentioned symptoms, then you should carefully follow the upcoming steps:

  • For about 15-20 minutes twice a day, soak your infected fingers or toes in water.
  • Carefully cut the hangnail off, making sure to completely get rid off the rough edges of the hangnail to prevent further infection.
  • Gently, massage the infected area with a cream or Vitamin E oil.
  • Over the infected area, apply some topical antibiotic cream for multiple days and cover the area with a bandage.
Antibiotic Cream + Pain Relief 6 Pack
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Moreover, if your infected hangnail has a pus-producing abscess, then you should consider seeing a doctor to drain in order it to prevent the infection from spreading, your doctor will most probably do the following steps;

  • First, the doctor will numb the infected area around your nail.
  • Using a certain tool, he will let the pus drain by lifting the nail fold up. It is rarely necessary to have a surgical incision.
  • Next, the area will be thoroughly and completely washed.A gauze strip will be placed into the abscess which would stay up for 1 to 2 days for the area in order to be completely drained.
  • Most likely, the doctor will prescribe an oral antibiotic.
  • In a couple of days, the gauze will be removed, and you will be advised to soak their nails in warm water up to 4 times a day.

Furthermore, in order to prevent any future infection, then it makes sense that you first have to prevent hangnails; so, in case you suspect any injury whatsoever to your nail or the area around it, then make sure to seek immediate treatment as soon as possible.

How to Prevent Hang​​​​​​​​nails

If you don’t want to go through this ordeal and you just want to cut it short and never suffer from the pain a hangnail can give someone, then you should consider the following easy methods to prevent hangnails from appearing out of nowhere.

1

Moisturize

This is a very simple step but can have a great impact on the overall nail health. In general, your skin should be hydrated and kept safe from drying out.

Likewise, your fingers and toes should be kept fully moisturized on a regular basis. Drying out factors are major cause in making you more susceptible to hangnails.

Therefore, your very first step is avoiding whatever makes your skin dry. For instance, cold weather and harsh chemicals. If you find yourself in continuous harsh weather circumstances or in the constant need to use harsh chemicals and you can’t just avoid using them, then use protect yourself smartly.

For example, in the very cold months of winter, make sure to put your gloves on and keeping your hands warm and away from all the factors that are trying so hard to dry your skin out.

Applying some lotion in the cold months is also a very highly recommended step. It is both good for your nails and your cuticles.

In addition, gloves are a life savior when it comes to using any chemical substance. So, put your washing gloves on before you wash your dishes or have any contact with water or chemical, because the hot water as well as the soap can contribute to drying your hands.

Plus, applying some lotion or any type of moisturizer after such activities is highly recommended. Take that extra step!

Thus, if you are usually outside in cold weather, or in case you are in a job that requires constant exposure to water for prolonged periods of time, then consider applying some lotion or a hand creme to your nail beds twice or three times a day, especially before you go to bed; in order to give your skin enough time to absorb the lotion without being interrupted with the everyday life activities.

2

Stop Nail and Cuticle Biting

Yes, you heard it well, you need to stop this bad habit right now. Biting your nails can cause damage to the skin around your nails and will definitely play a major role in causing hangnails to appear.

When you are stressed out and you’re biting your nails, just keep in mind the endless number of germs, bacteria and other nasty stuff being transferred from your mouth to your nails and vice versa.

Therefore, if you are a nail biter or like to pick at your cuticles, then it is definitely time to stop.

Plus, this is not all only about hangnails, biting your nails can lead various diseases such as flu or colds or other illnesses that can awfully hit you when germs are transferred from your nails. 

To help you stop biting your nails, you can look up some ways online, out of which is using a bitter-tasting nail polish. It can come colorless for those who don’t like colors on their nails.

Whenever you absentmindedly get your nails near your mouth, the bitterness will throw you off, and you will remember that you’re on your way to cut off this habit. 

Same thing goes for people who have the bad habit of sucking their thumbs (or any other finger). You’re giving yourself hangnails and multiple disease, so how about it is time for you to grow up now?

If you have already tried to quit and you still can’t do it, you can also use that bitter-tasting nail polish as well to help you quit this habit.

3

Use of Almonds

An easy homemade remedy is to soak almonds in water for about 12 hours. Then peel of the skin and grind them well. Add egg yolks, apple cider and honey to the mixture and blend them well.

Now rub it on your hands well and leave it like this for some time. Better if you can apply it before going to sleep at night. That gives it ample amount of time to soften and treat your skin.

4

Yogurt and Honey

Plain yogurt and organic honey also works equally well. Honey is in fact the most renowned for its medicinal values.

You can mix honey and yogurt and apply it on the worn out area. This protects you from infection, soothes your pain bleeding and prevents further hangnails.

5

Avocado

Avocado oil is also very effective. Smash the inner flesh of avocado and apply it on your nail beds.

6

Manicure and Pedicure

A good way to prevent getting hangnails is occasionally having a steady nail maintenance.

When you are polishing your nails regularly with your manicure, make sure not to cut the cuticles, as they will definitely participate in giving you hangnails, and maybe infected ones.

When applying manicure on, you have to cut your nails straight across and then file the ends in order to get a slightly rounded corner.

The majority of manicurists tend to have a little soak in cuticle oil which by and large helps in the process of moisturizing the nail beds as well as preventing the appearance of hangnails.

Next, if you are painting your nails and you found some of the polish is going out of your nail’s surface and is making its way into your skin, make sure to clean it up.

Nail polish can dry your skin out, so remove it quickly and carefully without picking at your skin.

Using an acetone-based nail polish can help you get rid of it, but do not over use the acetone or products that contain it as it can also be a drying out factor.

Finally, if you are not used to giving yourself some nail care, then getting a service from a trained dermatologist will guarantee better outcomes, especially when it comes to properly trimming your nails as well as making sure that your cuticles are pushed back and not wrongly cut.

3 Best Hangnails Clippers

In order to help you getting hangnails out of your life for good, we are providing you with the top 3 hangnails clippers that you can find on amazon.

We highly recommend checking the details of each and purchasing the best item or set that works well with your condition.

1

The Tweezerman Power Hangnail Clipper

Tweezerman Power Hangnail Clipper
181 Reviews
Tweezerman Power Hangnail Clipper
  • Patented tool with sharp angled cutting blades for cutting...
  • Clipper is embedded in strong plastic handle which provides...
  • How To Use: Flip Clipper open, turn and use to cut hangnail

This hangnail clipper provided by Tweezerman, which is one of the best brands out there, is on the top of our list. Tweezerman is known for its high-quality products when it comes to clippers and tools related to nail caring. Their hangnail is our number one for a reason. Say goodbye to hangnails!

First of all, it is a patented tool that will easily give you the comfort of safely and precisely cutting your hangnails off as well as trimming your cuticles as it is designed with sharp angled blades for cutting.

Second, what makes this tool special is its strong plastic handle which gives you more control and firmness when removing your hangnails off.

In addition, it is very easy to use. All you have to do is flip it open, turn it and cut your hangnail off for good. This tool is better than regular nail clippers as it is mainly designed for sharp cutting edges to cut the hangnails off.

Finally, be careful when using it so that you do not accidentally hurt yourself.

2

The Segbeauty Hangnail Clipper

Hangnail Clipper, Segbeauty 1/2 Jaw Cuticle Nipper, Gold...
22 Reviews
Hangnail Clipper, Segbeauty 1/2 Jaw Cuticle Nipper, Gold...
  • Trimming Cuticle Safely and Easily - small and pointed jaws,...
  • High Quality Manicure Kit - the cuticle nipper is made from...
  • Useful Spoon Pusher - the combination of cuticle pusher and...

Second on our list is this 2 piece product has it all. Segbeauty never fails to impress its customers with its well-designed and fancy-looking products. Their hangnail is one of a kind, and you will absolutely enjoy using it.

Basically, this 1/2 jaw cuticle nipper, which is also a fancily gold-plated cuticle pusher and cleaner, helps you in the process of trimming your hangnails with its sharp pointed jaws. This tool will make you enjoy making easy manicure and pedicure at the comfort of your home.

Its blades are designed to facilitate cutting hangnails and cuticle with high accuracy but be careful not to accidentally cut yourself.

The kit is made of high-quality materials that make it more durable and providing it with a longer serving life. The tools are suitable for both personal use or for beauty salons.

People with smaller than average nail beds will find this product suitable for their needs with its sharp blades that can get to the smallest of places.

This product comes with its own special case that is designed to protect its content from any external damage and to preserve those sharp blades.

Most nail techs like to use this product in specific. So why not give it a shot? You will feel like you just stepped out of a beauty salon!

3

Professional Stainless-Steel Pedicure Clippers

Hangnail Clipper,Segbeauty Manicure Pedicure Clipper Set,...
35 Reviews
Hangnail Clipper,Segbeauty Manicure Pedicure Clipper Set,...
  • HEAVY DUTY NAIL CLIPPER---- Crafted from premium stainless...
  • The blades are slightly curved with sharp tips to easily...
  • FEELING GOOD IN THE HAND---- The black coating on the...

This last product is a whole different experience on its own. It is also a product of the well-known Segbeauty. Basically, it is a hangnail clipper, manicure and pedicure clipper set, nail art kit, a stainless-steel nail nipper, a cuticle pusher, as well as an ingrown nail remover.

It is literally everything that you are going to need if you want to the perfect fingernail care. And it is made of premium stainless-steel.

Moreover, this material will make it easier to clean and sanitize; with just a quick rub of alcohol and a piece of cotton or cloth, it will be as good as new.

Hangnails are easily removed by its sharp curved tips, which also make it very easy to trim your nails and to remove the extra skin around the edges of your toes even if they are very tough to trim with other tools.

Moreover, the clipper will feel very controllable in your hand as the handle are not slippery at all; you must be in full control of your movements as you are dealing with very delicate areas.

Plus, with its spring mechanism, it will be super easy for you to operate as well as to close and release automatically when slightly squeezing.

Buying this product will let you enjoy your own home manicure and pedicure and will be a great tool to help get rid of hangnails for good.

When To See A Doctor?

Most of the time, a simple or moderate hangnail can be treated at home following the mentioned steps.

In some cases, you might want to visit a doctor in order to have a checkup when there appears to be further complications.

1

Redness and Pain

If there is still redness and pain after cutting a hangnail off, and it does not heal by time, then check with your doctor. Usually, infected hangnails can be cured by using some topical antibiotic ointments.

An infected hangnail must be treated as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the infection to other parts of the body; therefore, your doctor will be able to identify the most suitable treatment for the type of infection you have.

2

Developed Abscess

In case of developed abscess, then let your doctor lead the draining process and do not do it yourself; because if it’s drained improperly, it might lead to further complications in the area itself or it will start appearing on other parts of the body.

3

Paronychia

If your infection lasts more than 6 weeks, then this might be a chronic condition known an paronychia (source). In this case you will be advised with a course of treatment that suits your case.

In very rare and serious cases, the infection may spread to your limbs; hands or feet. These cases are very crucial as they can lead to sensation loss or mobility loss. In addition, in worst case scenarios, they might lead to having a risk of amputation.

4

Diabetes

Infections have more chances to spread in case of people with diabetes or with other circulation disorders.

Therefore, do not underestimate checking with your doctors as it can be extremely vital for the general health of your nails.

5

Other Signs of Infection

In addition, if you notice change in color or your nails become separated from skin, or if other areas of the nail or the finger begin to show symptoms of infection, then you need to seek medical help.

An infected hangnail can most likely be diagnosed by sight by your medical professional, in some cases, they will send a sample of your hangnail or your infection to the laboratory in order to decide what type of infection it is and to make sure everything else is clear and fine.

Once the area is treated by strong medications, it should heal up within 5 to 7 days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common FAQs. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

Why Does A Hangnail Hurt?

A hangnail can hurt in a very bad way, and this is due to their location. Mainly, hangnails appear at the end of a digit near the nail area which is full of nerve endings as well as blood vessels.

Thus, if a hangnail is attached to some live parts or portions of the skin near the nail bed area, it might be very painful in case of attempts to pull it out.

Plus, the pain will obviously be greater with inflamed hangnails, as the swelling might press on the nerve endings causing painful irritation which will also leave redness all over the area around it.

What If It Wasn't Treated Properly?

If you have ignored your infected hangnail, most likely, your condition will only grow to be worse and worse. The pain will get severe and the swelling will leave you uncomfortable for as long as it’s not professionally and properly treated.

In some rare case, your infection won’t just stay at the same place, it might try to spread to other parts of your body. So, make sure you treat the infection as soon as you spot it.

What To Do If My Hangnail Develops A Wart?

In some case, a wart or warts can develop in the area of a hangnail, and that should not be worrying. However, it is good to think of treating it in order to prevent the spread of more warts.

Salicylic acid as well as over the counter medications can be used in order to effectively get rid of warts.

Yet, in case the warts are stubborn, then seek your doctor’s advice who will most likely remove the warts via using a process that is based on liquid nitrogen freezing; also known as, Cantharidin treatment, which is basically about getting blister to form over the wart, or he might perform a small surgery.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the virus that causes the common warts to develop in areas where skin is broken. This virus is infectious, meaning it can be easily transmitted to other parts of the body through contact.

If you still find it difficult to get yourself into taking good care of your hangnails, then keep in mind the image of how unattractive warts can be.

What To Do Without a Hangnail Clipper?

In this case, make sure to thoroughly wash your hands first, and then apply some Bacitracin ointment or Vaseline and then cover your hangnail with a band-aid.

If you, by chance, have a first aid kit, then there is no harm in checking it and looking for any medical adhesives that can help in keeping the dangling piece in its place; because the last you want is that your hangnail becomes infected.

Does Vitamin Deficiency Causes Hangnails?

Yes, hangnails can be an indicator that you might be lacking some nutrition. The appearance of hangnails may be due to the lack of vitamin C, folic acid or protein, as previously explained.

Therefore, eating organic strawberries is a good idea to start with, as they’re a great source for both folic acid as well as vitamin C. Protein on the other hand can be taken from meat and beans.

What To Do If Babies Have Hangnails?

Hangnails are pretty normal in case of newborns and babies. They happen especially if your baby’s hands are usually wet, or if the baby keeps biting his fingernails causing the cuticle to be pushed back, and hangnails to be created.

You will notice that your baby’s nails are growing in a fast pace, and they need to be clipped on a regular basis. However, do not try to rip the baby’s hangnail off, as it can leave the baby in great pain and it can develop further infection.

Make sure to carefully and gently clip the hangnail off as well, every time you clip the nails; however, use sanitized hangnail trimmers and be careful not to cut extra delicate skin.

Takeaway

Hangnails are very normal to appear especially if you have dry hands whether it is because of the cold weather or because your constantly exposed to chemicals or prolonged exposure to water.

Preventing hangnails is fairly easy, you just need to give your fingernails and toenails a little bit more attention and daily care so that you don’t suffer a hangnail’s further complications. Same goes for treating a hangnail that already exists, which can be done easily at home in most cases.

If you have any concerns regarding the infection on your hangnail, then make sure to seek medical attention as some oral antibiotics might be advised.

We did our best to provide tips and techniques to help you prevent and cure hangnails, if you know any other way, please share it with our readers below.

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