What You Can Do To Prevent Hangnails

Hangnails are infamous for being painful. Whether they're dry and aching or swollen and stinging, the pain they cause is far larger than their small size suggests. Anyone who has had one knows the pain all too well. The idea of ripping it off and getting rid of it once and for all — especially after it snags on a sleeve — is almost too much to resist.

But as Dr. Benjamin J. Jacobs explains to Men's Health, giving in to that temptation isn't worth it. Dr. Jacobs says that biting off a hangnail or ripping it off with your nails can introduce bacteria to the wound, which may lead to an infection. Even if the spot doesn't become infected, it can increase irritation and swelling. Instead, Dr. Jacobs recommends softening the skin with a shower or soaking your hands. Then, using sanitized clippers, you can cut off the hangnail close to the skin. Afterward, moisturize the area and then leave it alone.

Of course, knowing how to remove a hangnail is useful, but learning how to prevent one and avoid the discomfort altogether is better. Luckily, Dr. Jacobs has a suggestion for that as well.

Preventing hangnails

In his interview with Men's Health, Dr. Jacobs gave one specific cause for hangnails. Those awful little thorns, as it turns out, are caused by dry skin. This is why they occur more often in winter and when you've been cleaning or washing your hands more often. To counteract the lack of moisture, Dr. Jacobs recommends the regular use of hand lotion. He specifically suggests one low in alcohol and water, as both ingredients can reduce the product's moisturizing effect.

Wearing gloves when you do dishes and using a moisturizer after showering or washing your hands can also help. When caring for your nails, Prevention suggests skipping the cuticle scissors and gently pushing your cuticles back instead. Even if you skip cutting your cuticles, pushing them back can prevent hangnails.

Hangnails are a rough addition to any day. With a little lotion and extra care, they don't have to be part of your day at all.