What Causes Hangnails And How To Treat Them

It’s quite common to have hangnails torn around the roots of our fingers and it almost always happens in fingernails more than it does in toenails. As common as hangnails seem to be, we should know that they may appear on the sides of our fingernails for various of reasons.

Most of the times hangnails don’t cause problems and they can be treated at home, but if you’ve tried different methods at home and still didn’t get any results, it’s best to see your doctor. As misleading as it might look for them being called hangnails they don’t occur on nails as brittle nails do, instead, these annoying bits of skin, stick up beside our nail beds.

Hangnails are not only unpleasant to look at, but they can also be painful at times. So, if you have swelling and redness around the fingernails or more serious issues that you notice not to be run-of-the-mill hangnails, they can also be symptoms of an infection of the skin.

According to Healthline, most people experience hangnails because of the environmental factors, for example during the harsh winter times. However, peeling cuticle skin can also appear when our hands are often in contact with water, or because of having dry skin. To learn more about hangnails, how can we prevent them from happening but also how to treat them, scroll down this article.

Photo Credits: David Fanuel on Unsplash

Hangnail causes


Environmental factors

One of the most common factors that causes our skin around our fingernails to peel and crack is the cold weather itself. External elements can affect the skin hydration and therefore cuticles can dry out. In the course of our days, we subject our hands to cold weather and that causes hangnails to develop.  Winter is a culprit when it comes to leaving us with dry hands, therefore, we should be more careful when we go out in cold weather and wear gloves. Also, keeping our hands in contact with water for a long period of time can lead to hangnails.

Don’t miss out: Dry Hands Causes


The nail-biting habit or picking at nails can lead not only to hangnails but also to skin infections. Instead of ripping off the skin around your fingernails with your mouth, try to gently clip it with sterile nail scissors.  Also, there’s a possibility that nail care routine might cause hangnails to appear, even have a bacterial infection. Make sure your beautician is not injuring your cuticles during the manicure sessions. On the contrary, it is recommended, to take a few minutes once a week and push your cuticles back if you’re not a person who likes to paint your nails and visit manicurists.

Chemical agents

Just like it was aforementioned, a beauty treatment can indeed make your hands look dreamy but it might also have some side effects. Acetone and various agents containing chemicals can lead hangnails to appear on the side of your nails. Also, many washing detergents do miracles when it comes to clean our bathroom and kitchen but if we don’t wear protective gloves when using these detergents since they consist irritating substances, they can cause hangnails to appear.


Health condition

Some certain types of skin conditions or diseases can cause the skin to form hangnails, Hindustantimes writes. Apart from this, a lack of vitamins can also be another factor that can cause our skin to peel off around the nails. Regarding the second one, you should make sure that you’re not having bad nourishment and you are taking the proper vitamins. A balanced diet of eating healthy food and drinking enough water is crucial to have healthy skin.

Read also: Vitamin Deficiency Common Symptoms

Photo Credits: iStock / Getty Images Plus


It’s important to prevent hangnails from occurring at all. But once they do, you should also pay special attention to prevent them from any bacterial infection. See how you can prevent hangnails:

  • Don’t pick your fingers nor bite them
  • Be careful to water exposure – too much water can lead hangnails to be formed
  • Keep yourself hydrated and make sure your eating fruits and vegetables on your diet
  • Be careful when in a manicure to not injure or cut the cuticle
  • Use moisturizing creams for your hands


According to Medical News Today you can treat a hangnail following these tips:

  • Soak the fingers that have hangnails in warm water for 15 minutes, 4 times per day
  • After taking your fingers from the water, trim the dead skin of hangnail with a nail clipper or nail scissors to prevent it from getting an infection
  • Moisturize the affected area during the day to help it heal out. Creams containing vitamin C, balms or oatmeals can also help to fix the problems

If the hangnail still doesn’t clean up then, it’s better to visit the doctor. A small bleeding wound can lead to a serious infection. We should better nip the hangnail in the bud.


Disclaimer: The contents of this article: text, graphics, images, and other materials contained are strictly for informational purposes only. The Content is NOT intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. Please ALWAYS seek the advice of a qualified health provider with all the questions that you have related to, or about, a medical condition.