Why Do We Get Hangnails? Examining The Causes And Prevention Of Hangnails


What Are Hangnails?

Hangnails are small strips of skin that peel back from the sides of the fingernails or toenails, often causing pain, irritation, and sometimes inflammation. They are a common and frustrating problem that many people experience, especially during the colder months.

Causes of Hangnails

There are several reasons why hangnails occur. One of the main causes is dry or brittle skin around the nails, which can be aggravated by frequent handwashing, exposure to harsh chemicals, or cold weather. The skin around the nails lacks moisture, making it susceptible to cracking and peeling, leading to the formation of hangnails. Additionally, biting or picking at the skin around the nails can disrupt the protective barrier, allowing hangnails to develop.


To prevent hangnails, it is essential to keep the skin around the nails well-moisturized. Regularly applying a rich hand cream or cuticle oil can help maintain the skin’s hydration levels and prevent it from becoming dry and prone to hangnails. It is also important to protect the hands by wearing gloves when exposed to harsh chemicals or cold weather conditions. Furthermore, avoiding habits such as biting or picking at the skin around the nails can significantly reduce the risk of developing hangnails and promote overall nail health.

Treatment Options

If a hangnail does occur, it is crucial to resist the urge to pull or tear it off, as this can lead to further irritation and potential infection. Instead, gently trim the hangnail using clean nail scissors or clippers to prevent tearing and further damage to the surrounding skin. After trimming the hangnail, applying an antiseptic cream to the affected area can help prevent infection and promote healing. Covering the area with a bandage can further protect the hangnail from further irritation and allow it to heal effectively. If the hangnail becomes red, swollen, or is accompanied by pus, it is advisable to seek medical attention promptly to prevent any complications.