LifeDIYWhat Causes Hangnails & How Do I Prevent Them From Happening In...

What Causes Hangnails & How Do I Prevent Them From Happening In The First Place?

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear or read the term, ‘hangnails’? Something to do with nails, correct? Well, you cannot be further away from the truth. Hangnails have nothing to do with nails but are closely related to it. In fact, they are small pieces of torn skin around the nails.

Remember that massive pain that you feel when the skin on either side of one of your fingernails is ripped apart a bit and, therefore, loosely hangs from the nail? We bet you’ve experienced hangnails innumerable times and let it just be because it heals within a few days. Little did you know that hangnails, if not taken care of, might lead to severe infections? 

5 Major Causes Of Hangnails

Where does this hangnail appear all of a sudden? It wasn’t there last night! So what causes hangnails? Well, there are several hangnails causes. So, let us go through the hangnail causes here.

  1. Your skin type is dry. The main cause of hangnails is dry skin. The cuticles are prone to hangnails due to the lack of moisturisation on the skin surrounding the nails.
  2. Both dry skin and dry nails can lead to hangnails. There are higher chances of hangnails when the cuticles of the nails lack hydration.
  3. Frequent hand washing and applying hand sanitiser often can also lead to hangnails. This again would lead to dryness of the skin. You need to make moisturising your hands a frequent habit, especially after washing your hands. 
  4. Biting around the nails. One of those bad habits that could turn into a nightmare for you. This habit makes the cuticles and the skin around your nails prone to tears, therefore, causing hangnails. 
  5. Cutting the cuticles. If you cut the cuticles or the skin around it by mistake, you might tear the skin enough for it to develop into a hangnail. 

5 Critical Signs & Symptoms Of Hangnails

  1. Redness or other discolouration
  2. Tenderness or pain
  3. Swelling
  4. Pus or fluid
  5. A warm feeling

Consult a doctor if you suspect that your hangnail has become infected. If there is puss, especially appearing from beside the cuticles, do not try to pop it or take it out yourself. The infection could spread and cause other complications. 

5 DIY Home Remedies For Hangnails

1. Almond Oil & Olive Oil

We’re sure you’ve heard about the moisturising benefits of these oils. You can make the most of its benefits for your nails and cuticles as well.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp almond Oil
  • 1 tbsp glycerine
  • 1 Vitamin E capsule


  1. Mix olive oil and almond oil.
  2. Add a few drops of glycerine.
  3. Open a vitamin E capsule into the mixture. It helps repair and moisturise the skin.
  4. Gently massage the mixture all over the affected area, leave it on for an hour and then wash it off.
  5. Store the extra mixture in a bottle and use it every day.

2. Shahad (Honey), Aloe Vera Gel, & Haldi (Turmeric) Powder

What Causes Hangnails & How Do I Prevent Them From Happening In The First Place?

Turmeric and aloe vera gel are great anti-inflammatories, while honey is known for providing hydration. This will work wonders as a hangnail pain relief. 


  • 1 tsp of aloe vera gel
  • ½ tsp of turmeric
  • 2 tbsp of honey 


  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel. You can use both freshly extracted aloe vera gel or one bought from the market. 
  2. Add a bit of turmeric powder and honey.
  3. Apply this mixture to the affected area.
  4. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, then gently rinse it off.
  5. Do this daily until the wound heals.

3. Beeswax, Coconut Oil, & Honey

Beeswax is a great skin-healing product. All the more, beeswax is one of the most recommended natural ingredients for hydrating sensitive skin. Essential oils are closely associated with soothing the pain in your skin. Here is one of the most useful home remedies for hangnails.


  • 3 tbsp beeswax
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond oil
  • 3 tsp honey
  • Few drops of tea tree oil or lavender oil 


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Heat the bowl in a microwave until all the ingredients melt and blend.
  3. Mix in a few drops of essential oils such as tea tree or lavender oil for soothing.
  4. Gently massage this mixture on your nails and cuticles at bedtime, and leave it overnight.
  5. Do this daily until the wound heals.

4. Glycerin, Coconut Oil, & Vitamin E Oil

Glycerin is one of the most prescribed ingredients for skin hydration. Add magic ingredients like coconut oil and vitamin E oil, both of which are again known for moisturising your skin, and you get one desi nuskhe that is sure to do wonders for your skin condition. 


  • 1 tbsp glycerin
  • 1 tbsp vitamin E oil
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil 


  1.  Mix the glycerin and add vitamin E oil. Squeeze the oil out of the pill. 
  2. Add coconut oil to the mixture and blend these ingredients well to get an even textured solution.
  3. Apply the mixture to the affected area. 
  4. Rinse the mixture using soap and apply a moisturiser. 

5. Avocado & Coconut/Olive Oil

What Causes Hangnails & How Do I Prevent Them From Happening In The First Place?

Avocado is yet another of those wonder ingredients that is closely associated with hydrating your skin, leaving it soft and supple. It is also known for its whaling properties. 


  • 1 tbsp avocado paste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil/olive oil


  1. All you need to do is to mash an avocado and add extra virgin coconut oil or olive oil to it, and give it a thorough mix to get an even paste.
  2. Mix both ingredients and apply them to the affected area. 
  3. Keep it for 10 mins and then rinse it off.

Medical Treatment For Hangnails

Normally hangnails would not require severe medical hangnail treatment. However, if the infection spreads too deep into the layers of your skin, manifesting through the development of puss, you may need surgical intervention to drain the pus or remove the damaged nail.

6 Preventive Measures Against Hangnails

The best prevention for hangnails involves keeping your skin hydrated. The following pointers will help you take care of your skin and prevent hangnails, especially if you experience them regularly: 

  1. Wear gloves when using cleaning products as they comprise harsh chemicals that rip your nails and skin off their hydrating properties. 
  2. Avoid using acetone products, such as nail polish with acetone, on the nails as these ingredients too also sap your nails and skin off their natural moisturisation.
  3. Apply hand cream frequently during the day. Keep your hands moisturised and hydrated at regular intervals, especially if you have dry skin.
  4. Apply a thick hand moisturiser before hitting the bed at night. 
  5. Never cut your cuticles, even by mistake, while cutting your nails. Only push them down. 
  6. Do not pick at or bite the cuticles, the nails, or the skin around your nails.

When To See A Doctor?

Typically, an ordinary hangnail does not require a doctor’s visit as we mentioned earlier. However, make sure to visit a doctor, if your hangnail becomes infected and/or manifests through any of the following symptoms:

  1. The area does not heal within a week.
  2. Blisters and pus form around the injury.
  3. Infection travels down the finger and nail bed.
  4. Your nails change colour. 

Your doctor might prescribe antibiotics for the infection. 

Hangnails are a common issue, especially during the winter because of the dry weather. That does not imply that it is restricted solely to this season. It can happen any time throughout the year. Biting your nails and not taking care of your cuticles can also make your skin condition worse. Take care of your skin and be careful while cutting your nails, and this skin condition will hardly even happen.

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