There are few things less annoyingly painful than a hangnail. We’ve all gotten them before – they’re those pieces of cuticle that have broken free from your nail bed and are quite literally hanging from your finger. They tend to get red, irritated and be quite painful, especially when caught on clothing.
Chewing them off is a universally acknowledged bad idea and getting them plucked off by your manicurist is really, really not fun. So how do you get rid of these painful nuisances? Wait until they go away on their own?
Luckily, you don’t have to wait it out. There is a safe, effective way to get rid of hangnails! But first, it’s important to know what causes hangnails and how to prevent them before they can begin.
WHAT CAUSES HANGNAILS
Primarily dry weather. Winter is prime time for hangnails; the delicate skin of your nail beds tends to get dry and cracked very easily, causing the hangnails to lift away from the skin.
On the flip side, overexposure to moisture (keeping your hands submerged in water for too long) or some chemicals will have a similar effect on the nail beds. Pruning and irritation causes the hangnail to lift up from the cuticle.
Finally, hangnails can come as a result of poor nail care. Biting nails, cutting cuticles down too far, or getting cuticles inflamed by your manicurist are all causes of painful hangnails.
HOW TO PREVENT HANGNAILS
One you’ve identified the most likely cause of your hangnails, you can take measures to prevent them in the future. Most of them are pretty straightforward.
In winter months, make sure to keep your nail beds moisturized. A regular old hand lotion around your nails will do the trick, and your cuticles will stay moisturized right up until the warmer summer months.
If you work in water or with harsh chemicals, you should be advised to wear gloves. This layer of protection will keep your cuticles healthy.
And finally, DON’T BITE YOUR NAILS. This is a bad habit that is hard to break, but it’s a huge cause of hangnails. If you’re noticing hangnails post-manicure either ask your manicurist politely to be more gentle or find a new manicurist.
If the hangnails persist, it may be wise to consult your physician to see if there are any underlying problems.
HOW TO GET RID OF HANGNAILS
If prevention is too late and you’re already dealing with a hangnail, you’ll want to get rid of it fast.
Beyond just being a painful annoyance, hangnails left uncovered or untreated can result in paronychia, or hangnail infection. So do not rip the hangnail out – you’re just making the nail more prone to this bacterial infection.
Instead, try this technique.
STEP 1: Soak the hangnail in warm water for five minutes to soften the skin.
STEP 2: Cleanse your nail with an antibacterial soap, to prevent infection.
STEP 3: Clip the hangnail at the base. REMEMBER DON’T RIP IT OUT!
STEP 4: Apply Vaseline or a Bacitracin to the clipped hangnail. Wrap a Band-Aid around the hangnail.
This technique should rid you of your hangnails without pain and ward off infection! But prevention is key. Make sure to keep your cuticles moisturized with nail oil and lotions to prevent further hangnails.