Do you feel like you are always getting hangnails? A hangnail, or agnail, is a small torn piece of skin, more specifically eponychium or paronychium, next to a fingernail or toenail. Not only do hangnails look bad, but they can also hurt. The good news is that there are some steps you can follow to resolve your hangnails properly and prevent them in the future.
Tip #1: Resist the Urge to Pick or Bite
For home treatment of you hangnail, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing the hands, clipping the loose piece of skin with a clean nail clipper or nail scissors, and applying over-the-counter antibiotic ointment if the area appears inflamed. Biting or picking at your nails only causes further damage to the skin surrounding the nail or the cuticle, and it also puts you at greater risk for infection. We know it is a difficult habit to break, but kicking your nail biting or nail picking habit can greatly reduce your chances of battling more hangnails.
Tip #2: Moisturize
Just as you apply lotion to other areas of your body, your hands and fingers need moisturizing too. In fact, daily use of hand lotion or hand cream may help prevent the formation of hangnails. Consider moisturizing the skin around your fingernails after water exposure to avoid dry, cracked areas of skin. Existing hangnails are also easier to remove with clippers if they are soft.
Tip #3: Recognize an Infection
Hangnails can become infected and cause paronychia, a type of skin infection that occurs around the nails. Treatments for paronychia vary with severity, but may include soaking in hot salty water, the use of oral antibiotic medication, or clinical lancing. If you notice that your hangnail is particularly painful, swollen or red, make sure you see a board certified dermatologist for proper treatment.
At Olansky Dermatology Associates, we help patients attain their best skin, hair and nails. There are many things you can do to make your nails stronger and less prone to producing hangnails, including eating foods that are rich in Biotin, Vitamin B, calcium and iron. Take action now to win your hangnail battle once and for all.