If you work in the garden, wash dishes without gloves or handle a lot of paper products, you probably have had hangnails. If you’re the nervous type that picks at the cuticles around your nails, you probably have them now.
Hangnails are little flaps of dead skin around the fingernails or toenails. They can be very irritating because they catch on everything including that expensive pair of hose. They can also be very painful and become infected. So what causes them?
A poor diet may be a factor as can dehydration. However, the most common cause appears to be the skin drying out and/or because of picking. Regardless of cause, the goal is to first fix the problem and then prevent a reoccurrence.
Three quick fixes
1. At the first sign of a hangnail, soak your hand for 5 to 10 minutes in a little oil and water mixture (Use 2 teaspoons oil such as jojoba or olive oil to 2 cups warm water). After soaking, clip the offending flap of skin with a sharp manicure scissors.
2. Refrain from biting the hangnail or picking at it. Some folks do these things without thinking. If this is a nervous habit of yours, being aware when you’re doing it will help you stop. A small Band-Aid may help.
3. Rub vitamin E oil or emollient cream on the hangnail at bedtime. You can also try taping a small plastic protector around your finger to hold in moisture during the night. Just be sure to remove it in the morning.
Preventing future hangnails
• Gently move cuticle away from nails with a cuticle stick. This is best done after an oil/water soak.
• Wear gloves when you garden, wash dishes, work with paints and clays or perform other activities that would dry out you skin.
• Moisturize your hands regularly during the day and always just before bedtime.
• Manage stress so you don’t have a reason to develop the nervous habit of picking and biting.
My nails used to always look terrible because of hangnails, but I got tired of the darn things snagging on everything. Now instead of clawing or biting them off which usually made them hurt worse and bleed, I use cream on my hands and take the above precautions. Works wonders. No more hangnails.
Now go have fun and relax.