We’ve all had them. We all know that we shouldn’t pick, pull, or bite at them. Hangnails. They actually aren’t even part of your fingernail at all. In fact, they are made of dead skin cells that have pulled away from the finger but are still anchored to the finger at the base, says Dawn Davis, MD., a dermatologist at Mayo Clinic. We all know how painful hangnails can be. This is due to their location. They are at the very tip of the finger, which is also home to many nerve endings and blood vessels.
Pulling at your hangnail can lead to more than just pain and bleeding at the hangnail site. Pulling off the skin can leave you susceptible to infection and then you have a bigger issue on your hands. Your hands are exposed to germs all the time, and then if you chose to bite your hangnail off, you are adding even more bacteria to the equation.
Don’t fret. If you notice a hangnail forming, you should take a hot shower or soak your hands in warm water to soften the skin around the hangnail. Then taking nail clippers that have been sterilized with rubbing alcohol, cut the hangnail as close to the normal skin as you can. Make sure you keep the area clean to avoid the risk of infection.
If you find yourself prone to the nuisances, try using a lotion regularly to moisturize the area. Gloves will also become your new best friend. Wearing gloves in the winter will help protect your hands from the cold air that can drying to your skin. If you find yourself in a situation where you regularly are submerging your hands in water, try wearing rubber gloves because hot water and soap will suck the moisture right out and leave you a prime candidate for hangnails!
If you have already bit that hangnail off, keep an eye on it for redness, swelling, and infection. You can start by treating inflamed and bother some hangnails with ice and over the counter pain medication. Adding an anti-bacterial cream will give you some protection against infection. If symptoms continue to worsen see an hand surgeon, you may need antibiotics or even surgery. If not treated properly, the redness and pain will spread and become more severe. If there is any drainage or pus, seek medical attention.
By: Tressa Chandler