What Causes Hangnails and How to Prevent Them

Hangnails can be extremely annoying and often painful. It’s not something you’ll frequently see in the headlines and they’re rarely discussed around the water cooler, but this is a common problem for men and women.

A bad manicure can cause a hangnail, particularly if the manicurist pushes the cuticle back aggressively or cuts along the edge of it with scissors. They can also be caused by dry skin, using harsh cleansing detergent, being exposed to moisture or frequent cold temperatures.

Biting your nails can also damage the cuticle, which increases the risk of hangnails as well as infection. Nail biters are especially prone to hangnails and have a much higher rate of developing infections around them, with the area becoming swollen and often painful. If the problem isn’t treated, the infection may spread further into the finger and even require surgery.

Fortunately, you can decrease the risk of developing hangnails by taking the following steps:


After you wash your hands, be sure to moisturize them well. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money on moisturizing cream or lotion; in fact, most are filled with potentially harmful chemicals that can create more problems than you had to begin with. Coconut oil makes a great moisturizer—massage it into the nails and cuticles regularly to help get the blood flowing, resulting in healthier, longer nails.

Soak Your Nails

People who frequently develop hangnails should soak their fingers at least once a week in natural, rich oil like olive or coconut oil. Afterwards, wrap your hands in a hot towel to lock in the moisture.

Wear Gloves

Protect your hands with gloves when exposing them to water, such as washing the dishes or being outdoors in a cold climate.

Treating Hangnails

If you develop a hangnail, use only sterile manicure scissors to carefully trim away any skin that is sticking out to ensure it won’t get caught up on something, but don’t trim or cut the cuticle. You can apply a small amount of antibiotic cream, but ideally you should try one of these natural treatments first:

Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil offers disinfectant, antibacterial and antifungal properties. Add a few drops to warm water and soak your hands in it two or three times a day. Dry your hands thoroughly and apply moisturizer afterwards.

hangnailsVinegar. Soaking your fingers in a vinegar/water solution can help to decrease fungal growth and may possibly inhibit bacterial growth. Use one part vinegar to two parts water and soak your fingers for about 15 minutes. Dry well and apply moisturizer.

By taking care of your hands and fingernails you can help to prevent those painful, unattractive hangnails for good.

-The Alternative Daily


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