What Causes Hangnails?
You probably notice that you get more hangnails during the cold winter months. You might also notice that during the winter, your skin dries out really fast. Bingo! You've just hit on one of the main causes of hangnails. Anything that can dry out your skin, such as cold winter weather, harsh chemicals or frequent immersion in water can cause hangnails to develop.
If you are a nail biter, it's likely that you develop more hangnails than your friends who prefer not to nibble on their nails. Besides being bad for your teeth, biting your nails can damage your nail bed, which is the skin underneath the actual fingernail. A weak nail bed can result in more hangnails. Another cause of hangnails is a manicure gone awry -- an inept hand with the nail clippers or frequent cutting of the cuticles can cause hangnails.
How do we get rid of them?
Two words: Don’t rip. And we mean it. Why? Ripping can leave an open wound and introduce bacteria, which can result in an infection called paronychia. You probably know that throbbing feeling that comes with the raw, red territory after you’ve accidentally pulled off a hangnail. Instead, do it the gentler way. Soften [the hangnail] a little by soaking in warm water for five minutes, clean your hands with an antibacterial soap, then cut the sucker off from the base with a cuticle or nail clipper. Then add an anti-bacterial ointment and patch it up with a Band-Aid.
What to do when you can’t remove it:
If a nail clipper isn’t available, try something else. After washing your hands, use either Vaseline or a Bacitracin ointment and cover it with a Band-Aid. If there’s a first aid kit laying around nearby, check to see if it has any medical adhesives that could help keep the dangling piece in place. The last think you want is a hangnail catching on something.
How can we prevent them?
Moisturize!! Cuticle oil is your friend. It is not only amazingly nourishing for your cuticles but it helps in the overall health of your nail. Once a day, preferably before bed, is great for use.
Regular use of lotions for added moisture, as well as vitamin E, which is hydrating and great in treating nicks and scars. Finally, the cuticle is meant to protect the root of the nail from invasion by bacteria, fungus and viruses. So, if that area is damaged by a tool, especially a dirty one, you could be looking for trouble that goes deeper than a hangnail.