Treatments for a Hangnail

adult and child nail clippers image by green308 from

Hangnails occur when a sliver of skin splits off from a fingernail. This often causes pain, especially when the hangnail catches onto an object. Hangnails usually occur as a result of nail biting or when the skin around the nail is dry. It is important to remove hangnails the correct way, because attempting to remove them improperly can leave behind deep, painful cuts, swelling and infections. With patience and just a few simple tools, hangnails can be removed effectively and safely.


Hangnails can be cut short using nail clippers. This should be done as early as possible to reduce pain and irritation. For best results, the nail should be soaked in a small bowl of warm water with 2 tsp. olive oil. This will moisturize the skin, the cuticle and the nail for easy removal of the hangnail. If the nail is too dry, clipping the hangnail could rip the skin even more. After soaking, the hangnail should be clipped as close to the skin as possible with nail clippers. Once the hangnail is clipped, the nail should still be soaked in the oil and water mixture once a day until the nail is completely healed.


Nail scissors can also be used to remove hangnails and can offer a closer trim than nail clippers. The scissors should be wiped with rubbing alcohol before use to sterilize them and prevent infection. Using a gentle exfoliating scrub on the area can loosen the hangnail. After the hangnail away with scissors, the nail should be covered with a bandage to prevent infection. The hangnail will go away after keeping it trimmed and moisturized for a few days.

Salt Soak

Epsom salt is made of magnesium sulfate, which is easily absorbed into the skin to exfoliate and prevent swelling. Soaking the nail in 1 cup water and 1 tsp. Epsom salt three to four times daily can provide relief. The soak should be repeated until the hangnail is healed, which can take two to three days.