How to Get Rid of Hangnails

Ever had a tear at the edge of your nail resulting in some skin hanging out? Well, that right there is what referred to as a hangnail. Although not much of a health concern unless infected, hangnails can be uncomfortable. Below is a procedure on how to get rid of hangnails, the causes, how to prevent them and when it’s time to see the doctor.

What are Hangnails?

A hangnail is a piece of the skin that is jagged and torn and which appears close to the root of the nails. Tracylee, a Sally Hansen Nail Expert, while speaking to Allure asserted that hangnails are usually made up of dried skin around the nails but could also be part of the actual nail plate that has faced damage from biting and picking. They are most common on the finger.

Hangnail Causes

The main reason why hangnails occur is due to dry skin around the nails. This is the reason why they are most common in winter. 

In addition, other causes of hangnails include nail biting or picking, having the cuticles cut in too deep as well as having injuries around the nails could lead to formation of hangnails. Overdoing your nail routine could lead to damaged cuticles and hangnails. In the same way, having inappropriate manicures or pedicures could result in this kind of skin damage. 

It is worth noting that nutrition has a great effect on the health of nails. Nutritional deficiency could lead to dry cuticles and predispose your fingers and toes to hangnails.
Contact with harmful chemicals and washing your hands too frequently are additional precursors.

How to Get Rid Of Hangnails 

It is important to learn how to get rid of hangnails as if they are not removed, infections could occur. Infected hangnails are not only painful but could render you incapable of engaging in daily activities. Follow this procedure to get rid of them.

1.     Soak Affected Fingers

Soaking the fingers in some warm water for about ten minutes helps to soften the nails and the skin surrounding it. This makes it easy to remove the hangnails and avoid hurting the nails further. To enhance the process, you can add olive oil or vitamin E oil in the water.

2.     Clip the Hangnail

This can be done using a sharp pair of cuticle nippers. It should be nipped from as close to the base as possible to ensure that no piece is left. Leaving behind a significant piece will increase the chances of it getting caught in things thus continuing to rip off.

While clipping the hangnail, avoid plucking or pulling as this could lead to it breaking from the skin in an uneven manner. Pulling could also result in bleeding in which case the chances of hangnail infection are increased. For the same reason, avoid cutting off more skin than is necessary as the resulting deep cut could be easily infected. 

In case your resources are limited and you are wondering how to get rid of hangnails without nail clippers. You can make use of small scissors.        

3.     Disinfect the Area

While the process on how to get rid of hangnails may appear easy, failure to take precautions could see the area get infected. It is therefore important that once you are done eliminating the hangnail, you put into place preventive measures. 

Applying antibacterial ointment on the area to facilitate fast haling and kill any bacterial that may be around the area. In case a deep cut was obtained during the process, bandage the area to keep away infection causing microorganisms.

4.     Moisturize

Like indicated earlier, hangnails are mostly as a result of dry skin. It is therefore important to moisturize the skin. You could make use of vitamin E as it is highly moisturizing and gets absorbed into the skin easily. According to Wound Care Society, studies show that vitamin E oil promotes regrowth of collagen thus promotes fast healing. It also protects the cuticles from brittleness and dryness. 

Keep applying a moisturizer throughout the day. You could use other moisturizers such as coconut oil, petroleum jelly, olive oil and honey to keep your hands supple and hydrated thus eliminate chances of recurrence.

How to Get Rid Of Hangnails on Toes   

Although most obvious on finger nails, hangnails on toes do occur. Often confused with ingrown toenail (when the tip of the toenail embeds into the skin), a hangnail on toe is a flap of skin hanging close to the toe. 

In case you are wondering how to get rid of hangnails on toes, the procedure is no different from that of getting rid of them on the fingernails. The procedure given above thus applies to hangnails on both toes and fingers.

How to Get Rid Of A Hangnail Infection  

In most cases, hangnails are not a health concern and are simply uncomfortable. However, this ceases to be so in case the hang nails become infected. You will know hangnails are infected if they exhibit the following symptoms:
  • Tenderness
  • Excessive pain
  • Swelling
  • Formation of pus filled blister
  • Area becoming warm
Where the infection is bacterial, the symptoms occur rapidly while fungal infections are gradual. The latter are more common in persons who spend long duration in water and diabetics.

According to, prolonged hangnail infection may lead to discolored nails or make the infection to spread to other parts of the body. It is, therefore, that treatment is administered to the infected hangnails immediately.

Depending on the severity, it is possible to treat the infection at home. For mild cases, start by soaking the hangnail in warm hot water three times a day. After this dry them up and apply antibiotic cream on the hangnail. If necessary, cover up the wound. In case the wound does not get better within a week or where the infection is severe, visit your dermatologist.

How to Prevent Hangnails

Once you have gotten rid of existing hangnails, it is important to take better care of your nails and skin surrounding them. This will help prevent hangnails. Below are tips to help achieve healthy skin and nails.

Moisturize the Nail Beds

Since the main cause of hangnails is dry skin, you have to protect yourself against the same by ensuring your skin stays moisturized.

Simcha Whitehill, a New York City Editorial Artist, while talking to the Cosmopolitan recommends that you apply a cocktail of moisturizer and cuticle oil every day. Always keep nourishing your skin with deep penetrating oils and lotions.

Protect your Hands

Protecting your hands ensures that the skin is protected to. While doing tasks involving a long duration of water use, contact with harsh chemicals and detergents, wear rubber gloves.

Quit Picking and Biting your Nails

Too much picking and biting of the nails results in skin damage in addition to making your nails unappealing. In addition to increasing chances of hangnails, biting on nails also subjects the already existing ones to bacteria from the mouth thus increasing chances of infection. Avoid these habits for healthy nails.

Proper Nail Grooming

Appropriate nail grooming can prevent formation of hangnails. Ensure your nails remain well-trimmed and avoid growing them too long. 

Instead of cutting off the cuticles, use an orange stick to push them back. To keep your nails healthy and their growth under control, schedule regular manicures. Have it done by a professional and stay away from harsh products such as acetone containing removers.



  1. Coconut oil fixes everything from your dry hair and much more.
    I love it. There's a book that explains all the benefits of coconut oil.
    I found it here


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