How to Fix and Prevent Hangnails

Anne-Marie Guarnieri, Allure magazine

Between constantly testing new nail polishes, frequently using remover to get rid of said nail polishes, and a nervous habit of picking at my cuticles, I seem to have a hangnail almost all the time. This week, I got one that was so painful, I was worried that...well, you don't need to know about my hangnail. But I bet you will be interested in what Sally Hansen Nail Expert Tracylee told me about how to deal with them when they do occur.

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Why do we get hangnails and why are they so freaking painful?

"They're generally caused by picking the cuticle or the skin surrounding the sidewalls of the nail or by biting your nails. They're usually made up of dried skin on the side of the nails, but they can also be part of your actual nail plate that has been damaged due to picking and biting. If a hangnail is still attached to the live portion of the skin or nail bed, it can be painful when pulled."

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So how do we treat them? I finally slathered mine with pure vitamin E oil and the pain went away. That was a miracle.

"You were spot-on to hydrate it with vitamin E oil! Do that immediately when you feel pain and reapply several times a day to keep the area hydrated. The oil is absorbed very quickly and assists in the healing process. Once the hangnail is softened, you can trim it with a cuticle scissor or nipper. And never, ever pick at it."

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And what can you do to prevent them? Now that it's getting colder out, my skin is starting to feel superdry.

"First off, don't bite your nails or your skin. Also, get in the habit of moisturizing your cuticles daily with an oil. It'll hydrate the nail matrix, which is where your nail plate grows from, and keep it from getting dry or brittle. And lastly, when polishing your nails, always remove any polish that gets on your skin right away-nail polish, and that includes base- and topcoat, is drying to the skin."


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