Hangnails? Hell No — Here’s How to Prevent Them

Hangnails? Hell No — Here’s How to Prevent Them

Unsightly? Check. Annoying? You betcha. But despite the “nail” part of the word, it’s really the dry skin that’s causing the fugliness. These jagged little bits of skin just can’t stay put, so they pop out and cause problems. Among Jay-Z’s 99 problems, hangnails are probably in the top 50.

You might pick and gnaw at them, thinking you’re “fixing” your fingers, but all that does is make them worse. Like a vicious cycle, you can’t leave them alone, so they react by acting up. The pieces get longer, stiffer, and may even feel sharp.

But do you learn and leave ‘em alone? Of course not. Once you’re invested in their demise, you won’t stop ‘till they’re painful and bleeding, making a frustrating problem worse.


Some people seem more prone to get them than others, and we look at their fingertips with disgust. Although we’ve had hangnails too, seeing them on someone else is gnarly. Even the most well-meaning manicurist would give a “WTF is wrong with your fingers?” side-eye when someone with jacked-up fingertips sits in their seat.

Perhaps being proactive and knowing why these little bastards bother us could be the “cure,” or at least cut down on their frequency or ferociousness.

According to Healthline, “Hangnails have multiple causes, including cracked, brittle skin. They may occur more often during winter, since skin is prone to dryness during cold weather. People who bite their nails, or clip their cuticles down too closely to the nail bed, may also get hangnails more often.”

As Men’s Health explains, “They occur when the skin separates from the surface, but still remains anchored at the base.”

You probably already know that, but some folks aren’t as swift. Still, no matter your level of hangnail knowledge, you do the same stupid stuff to them everyone else does. In terms of hangnails, we’re all in the same “But this’ll make ‘em better” boat.


What to do? Before giving in and letting them fester further, it’s time to nail this problem so you look better and don’t open yourself up to infection. Those who’ve experienced swelling, soreness, tenderness, and toughness know that it’s a rare day that hangnails heal on their own.

Don’t lose your patience and try to get rid of them by trying to snag them with your dirty fingernails or ripping them to shreds with your stapler remover. There are far better (and more hygenic) options that will actually work.

First and foremost, lay off the damn things. Wash the area and keep it clean. When the skin starts to pull away, any small crack is an open invitation for dirt and debris to weasel in, and bacteria can find a “bedroom.” Infections are the ultimate “Oh no!,” so let’s not do anything to help that along.

When your fingers are moistened with warm water, use a small, clean nail clipper and snip. Not too close to the base, but just enough to nip that jagged edge off so you aren’t inclined to do something rash (and regrettable). Clean again and cover it up with a band-aid if need be.

Already have an infection or look like one’s brewing? Clean it with rubbing alcohol and use an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. If that doesn’t solve the issue, seek medical attention. It may seem inconsequential, but if that thing spreads, you’re screwed. Ask any dermatologist.

Stop future ones from forming by keeping your nails trim and clean. Moisturize with hand cream or lotion all the time to soften and smooth. Heck, if you haven’t done so yet, go for a manicure. Bring a friend to make it a chill self-care session. Be sure they don’t skimp on the cuticle oil for extra moisturizing.


Hangnails are a signal that you don’t have the best hygiene habits, which is a turn off.

It takes a few minutes to keep your fingers and nails nice. And getting passed over because your nail situation is a bummer when there’s a lot more to your game.

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