Have a Hangnail? Here’s How to Treat It
Between all the sanitizing, hand-washing and the cold weather, dry skin and hangnails shouldn’t come as a shock. And while it may be tempting to pull off your torn skin from the finger nail the second you spot it, there’s a much better way to trim your hangnails — and prevent them from happening again. So grab a hand cream, nail clippers and keep reading because we’re breaking down the dos and don’ts of treating hangnails, below.
What Causes Hangnails?
Here’s the thing: A hangnail isn’t a part of your nail at all. It’s a torn piece of skin at the edge of your nail, and according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people experience hangnails when the skin is dry, such as in the winter or after being exposed to water for prolonged periods of time.
While hangnails are not particularly concerning, the AAD says that if your hangnail hurts it could be infected. If tenderness, pus or pain persists after treating your hangnail (we’re explaining how, below), make sure to consult with a board-certified dermatologist.
How to Treat Your Hangnail
Keep Hands Hydrated
Cold weather or overexposure to water can dry out your hands and nails. That’s why it’s important to take precautions such as wearing gloves when washing the dishes or heading outside. We also suggest regularly applying a hand cream to nails and cuticles to keep them hydrated and, in turn, keep hangnails at bay. For a nourishing drugstore option, we like the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream.
If you’re experiencing any soreness or swelling, the AAD suggests applying an antibiotic cream to alleviate any soreness.
Clip Off the Loose Skin
After soaking your hands in warm water, the AAD suggests using a nail scissors or cuticle cutter to snip off the loose skin. This method provides more precision than simply ripping or tearing off a hangnail, which can create an opening for bacteria and cause infection. (Editor’s tip: Make sure that the nail clipper or scissors you’re using is sharp and sterile to prevent infection.)
Create a Nail-Care Routine
Because hangnails can be caused by brittle nail texture, try using a nail-strengthening product like the Essie Treat Love & Color polishes. You should also use a cuticle oil, like the Essie Apricot Cuticle Oil, every day to maintain moisture. It’s also key to avoid bad habits, like biting or picking your nails.