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If you thought dry skin and wind burn were bad, here’s another reason to hate winter: hangnails, those pesky pests that seem to ruin our weekly manicures.
Whether it’s the incessant throbbing pain, or the constant urge to rip them off, everything about hangnails makes us want to pull our hair out in frustration. With that said we consulted with a dermatologist and a manicurist about hangnails: how to get rid of, treat and possibly prevent them for good.
Basically, a hangnail is a piece of skin that separates from the side of the cuticle.
There are several triggers that can cause hangnails. Nail clipping can lead to hangnails if the nail is trimmed along the side of the nail. Pushing back or cutting cuticles too aggressively can also be irritating.
And now the kicker: cold weather irritates dry skin, meaning hangnails are more likely to occur in the winter.
Don’t rip. Ripping can leave an open wound and introduce bacteria, which can result in an infection. And that says nothing of the throbbing feeling that comes with the raw, red territory after you’ve accidentally pulled off a hangnail.
Instead of ripping, soften the hangnail a little by soaking it in warm water for five minutes. Then clean your hands with an antibacterial soap, cut the hangnail off from the base with a cuticle or nail clippers, add an anti-bacterial ointment and patch it up with a Band-Aid.
What to do when you can’t remove it:
If you don’t have nail clippers, wash your hands with an antibacterial soap, apply 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.
Keep your hands moisturized. Using a good shielding lotion every 4 – 6 hours can do wonders to keep your skin moisturized. Use cuticle oil on your nails. Not only does it nourish your cuticles, but it helps in the overall health of your nail. Apply cuticle oil once a day, preferably before bed.
It is also a good idea to instruct your manicurist not to cut your cuticles. The cuticle is designed to protect the nail root from invasion by bacteria, fungus and viruses. If that area is damaged by a tool, especially a dirty one, you could wind up with more severe problems than a hangnail.
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