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Why Are Hangnails So Painful? [+ How To Get Rid Of Them]

When looking after our hands, we often neglect our cuticles and nails, and often you’ll find that hangnails appear.

But what exactly is a hangnail, and why are hangnails so painful? I’m going to be sharing all of the information about why hangnails happen, and why they’re so flipping painful if you accidentally catch one.

Why Are Hangnails So Painful

What is a hangnail?

A hangnail is a piece of skin that peels away from the side of your fingernail or toenail.

They usually appear as small, white or pink pieces of skin near the nail, and can be very painful when touched or pulled on, as they’re usually inflamed.

Hangnails are commonly caused by excessively dry skin around your nails, which causes them to become brittle and easily torn.

Other common causes include frequent wetting and drying of your hands, constantly having your hands in water, or wearing tight-fitting gloves for prolonged periods of time.

Hangnails can also be caused by nutritional deficiencies or illnesses such as diabetes, psoriasis, eczema, thyroid issues and rheumatoid arthritis.

If left untreated, hangnails can become infected and cause swelling and pain around the affected area.

In some cases, they may even require medical treatment with antibiotics to prevent an infection from spreading deeper into the fleshy tissue surrounding it.

To avoid getting hangnails regularly, you should moisturize your hands every day using a cream that has ingredients such as cocoa butter, lanolin or petrolatum to help keep them hydrated and less liable to tear apart during normal use, such as typing on a keyboard.

Keep your nails trimmed regularly with scissors so that they won’t have any sharp edges that could lead to further damage to the delicate cuticle tissue at the surface of the nail plate, where hangnails tend to form more often.

If you notice one forming, then gently clip it off before it gets any bigger, since pulling it too hard might cause trauma to the underlying fleshy part beneath it, which would need proper medical attention if this were indeed done wrongfully. You could always visit a dermatologist for advice, if you want to find out the reason for the frequent hangnails appearing.

How do hangnails happen?

Hangnails are small pieces of skin that have separated from the nail and hang off it. They happen when the cuticle or skin around the base of the nail is dry, causing it to tear easily, and they hurt like hell.

If a person’s hands and fingers are exposed to frequent wetting, drying and chapping, it causes the cuticle to become brittle and weak, which can lead to hangnails.

People who bite their nails or pick at them can also end up with hangnails, as they rupture and damage this delicate tissue. People who often experience extreme temperatures, like those living in cold climates where the air is very dry or hot climates with high humidity levels, tend to be more susceptible to hangnail problems.

Harsh chemical detergents found in soaps, body washes and shampoos further weaken this area since they strip away natural oils needed for its protection.

Sometimes people with eczema or psoriasis may also develop a tendency toward hangnails due to their condition affecting the skin barrier function of their cuticles.

A lack of proper nutrition, including vitamins A and D, causes hangnails, leading to repeated occurrences of hangnails.

To prevent them from happening;

  • practice good hygiene by keeping hands clean but not overly dried out
  • wear protective gloves while working outdoors during colder seasons
  • use mild soaps and moisturizing lotions designed for sensitive skins
  • avoid picking at nails
  • eat a balanced diet that includes vitamins A and D
  • regularly clip any rough or sharp edges off your fingernails if needed

How common is it for hangnails to appear?

Hangnails are very common and nearly everyone will experience them at some point in their life.

They occur due to dry skin or an infection caused by cutting nails too close to the skin.

Hangnails happen when skin around a nail dries out and breaks off, leaving a jagged edge that can be painful or itchy.

This is more likely to happen during winter months when cold air is drying out our hands, so moisturizing regularly can help prevent them from appearing.

For those who already have hangnails, gently clipping away the exposed area with sterilized scissors and applying lotion afterward can help eliminate further irritation.

Taking vitamin supplements such as biotin and omega-3 fatty acids have been known to strengthen nails and reduce the chance of hangnail development.

What does a hangnail look like?

A hangnail is a small, jagged sliver of skin that hangs off the side of the nail bed.

It usually has a whitish or yellowish hue and appears thickened and uneven in comparison to regular cuticles.

The edges of the hangnail can be sharp and painful to touch, making it difficult to trim away without irritation or injury.

Hangnails typically form as a result of dryness, frequent biting, picking at nails/cuticles or repetitive wetting and drying.

In comparison to peeling cuticles, which tend to flake off in thin layers that are easy to remove with an orange stick for manicures, hangnails are much more difficult to remove due to their shape and texture.

Peeling cuticles tend to come off easily when pulled carefully from around the edge of the nail plate, whereas hangnails require more precision when trimming them away as they sit on top of the nail bed itself instead of along its edges.

It is important not to pull too hard on a hangnail due its fragility, since doing so can cause further damage such as bleeding or infection-causing bacteria entering through any open wounds.

Is a hangnail part of your nail cuticle?

Is a hangnail part of your nail cuticle?

A hangnail is not part of your nail cuticle. The cuticle is the fleshy area at the base of the nail, and a hangnail forms on the edges of the fingers, next to the nails.

You can catch a hangnail and rip the skin, whip can affect the cuticle, so always be careful and trim your hangnails as soon as they appear to risk further issues with the nails and cuticles.

Why are hangnails so painful?

Hangnails are painful for a variety of reasons. First, hangnails can be caused by dehydration or dryness in the skin around your fingernail. This leads to weak cuticles and skin around your nails, which makes them more prone to tearing.

When you try to treat hangnails, you may actually worsen it, since the pulling and tugging causes further pain and even infection if not sanitized properly.

This is because when you pull at these weakened areas of skin, it can damage the nerve endings and blood vessels that are close to the surface. The damaged nerves send an intense, sharp and burning sensation in response to the tissue being pulled on.

When you tear hangnails away from their bed (the area where they originate), this tugs on small blood vessels and causes bleeding underneath the nail as well as a stinging feeling due to exposed nerve endings.

To treat hangnails without causing unwanted pain or infection, it’s important to keep them clean and sanitized with a moisturizing lotion or cream so that the skin remains soft and less likely for hangnails to form.

Using nail scissors or clippers after soaking hands in warm water will help weaken any tough pieces of dead skin so that they can be carefully trimmed away without putting too much pressure on delicate surrounding tissue – resulting in less pain overall.

Why do my nails hurt for no reason?

There are a number of potential causes for nail pain. One common cause is an injury to the nail, such as when it is crushed or stubbed.

However, even minor injuries can cause pain if they damage the nerves or blood vessels in the nail. Another possible cause of nail pain is an infection.

Fungal infections are a particularly common cause of nail pain, but bacteria and viruses can also infect the nails.

Nail pain can also be caused by inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis or eczema.

In some cases, nail pain may be a symptom of another underlying condition, such as arthritis or diabetes.

If you are experiencing unexplained nail pain, it is best to seek medical advice to rule out any serious underlying causes.

What is the best hangnail treatment?

Hangnails can be debilitating and unsightly for anyone who experiences them. If you notice a hangnail, it’s important to use caution when dealing with the issue.

While you might have the temptation to rip it off immediately, this could cause further irritation and lead to infection.

The best treatment for hangnails is to gently trim them with a nail clipper or scissor and apply a moisturizing cream or lotion regularly.

For those that are particularly uncomfortable, consider applying some petroleum jelly or antibiotic ointment on the affected area before clipping the hangnail away safely.

It is also important to keep your hands clean and dry at all times, as moisture can aggravate hangnails even more.

It’s also recommended that you pay attention to what may have caused them in the first place; often times an underlying medical condition such as eczema or psoriasis can contribute to their appearance.

Hangnails are annoying. By making sure your nails are well-moisturized and wearing a glove when doing any kind of wet work, you can help prevent hangnails from occurring in the first place, and avoid them entirely as they’re prone to infection.

How can we prevent hangnails from happening?

How can we prevent hangnails from happening?

There are a few things you can do to help prevent hangnails from forming. First, make sure to keep your nails trimmed and clean. This will help reduce the chance of irritation and infection.

You should also avoid picking at your cuticles, as this can damage the skin around the nails. It is important to keep your hands well-moisturized, especially during the winter months and cold weather, when the skin is more likely to become dry and cracked.

You can use a hand cream or lotion, with a cuticle oil on a daily basis, or apply petroleum jelly to your nails before going to bed.

If you use harsh soaps or harsh chemicals, this can also lead to the pieces of skin from peeling beside the nails.

By taking these precautions, you can help reduce your risk of developing hangnails and torn skin.

How to get rid of a hangnail on toe?

If you have a hangnail on your toe, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Trying to pick or rip off a hangnail can damage the skin and nails, which can lead to infection.

If the hangnail is causing pain or irritation, you can soak it in warm water for 10 minutes to help soften the skin.

Once the skin is soft, you can use a pair of tweezers or nail scissors to gently remove the hangnail.

Make sure to sterilize the tweezers beforehand by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol.

After removing the hangnail, apply a bandage to protect the area from further irritation.

How to get rid of hangnails without nail clippers?

If you don’t have nail clippers, you can use a pair of tweezers to remove the hangnail. Make sure to sterilize the tweezers beforehand by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol.

Once the hangnail is removed, you can apply a bandage to the area to help protect it from further irritation, if you’re showing any signs of inflammation or pain.

You can also soak the area in warm water for 10 minutes to help soften the skin.

Best hangnail pain relief?

If you have ever had a hangnail, then you know just how painful they can be.

The good news is that there are a few things you can do to get relief from the pain.

One simple way to reduce the pain is to soak the affected finger in warm water for a few minutes.

This will help to soften the skin and make it easier to remove the hangnail. You can also try using a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar. Apply the solution to the hangnail and cover with a band-aid.

Leave it on for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if possible. You can also try using an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help reduce the pain and inflammation.

How do you know if you have an infected hangnail?

How do you know if you have an infected hangnail?

If you have a hangnail that is red, swollen, or leaking pus, then it is likely that you have an infection. If the hangnail is causing you pain, it is also important to seek medical attention.

The best way to treat an infected hangnail is with antibiotics. Your doctor will likely prescribe a course of oral antibiotics, or give you some antibacterial ointment or antibiotic cream to treat the area.

It is important to finish the entire course of medication, even if the symptoms go away.

This will help to prevent the infection from coming back, and practice good nail hygiene to prevent the problem coming back.

How to remove hangnails from your fingers?

If you have a hangnail, there are a few things you can do to remove it. First, soak your hand in warm water for a few minutes to soften the skin.

Then, gently pull the hangnail away from the nail bed using a clean pair of tweezers.

Finally, apply a moisturizer to your hands to help prevent future hangnails. By following these steps, you can quickly and easily remove hangnails without causing any damage to your nails.


Why do hangnails hurt? Hangnails are often painful because they are caused by the skin around the nails drying out and cracking.

When the skin cracks, it can allow bacteria to enter and cause an infection.

The act of picking at a hangnail can also damage the skin and nails, which can lead to pain.

If you have a hangnail that is causing you pain, it is important to seek medical attention.

The best way to treat an infected hangnail is with antibiotics. You can also try soaking the affected area in warm water or using a cotton ball soaked in apple cider vinegar to help reduce the pain.