Terrified woman. Terrified young woman in formalwear looking at camera and biting nails while standing isolated on whiteEveryone is guilty of it. Whether you do it because you’re stressed, bored, or hungry might be hard to say, but the evidence is easy to spot. Biting your nails may seem harmless enough in the moment, but anyone who has taken esthetic courses can assure you that it is not—in fact, it may even be worse for you than you think.

If you’re someone who bites your nails regularly, you have definitely fallen victim to the dreaded hangnail. You know—those tiny pieces of triangular-shaped skin (or nail) that live within the sidewalls of your nails and cuticles? At first, they don’t appear to be much of a threat because of their miniscule size; however, if you’ve ever tried to remove one, you have no doubt experienced the excruciating pain that quickly follows. Many people have no idea that hangnails can actually be treated AND prevented. We might not be able to stop your nail-biting habit, but we can definitely help you cover your tracks.

What Causes a Hangnail?

The most common way to get a hangnail is by biting and picking at the skin surrounding your nails – but there are several other conditions that can lead to the same outcome, like having dry skin. Hangnails are made up of the dry skin that accumulates on the sides of your nails. They can also sometimes be actual pieces of nail that has been cracked or split due to biting.

Ouch! Why Are They So Painful?

Have you ever wondered why hangnails hurt so much? Recent graduates of esthetic schools can tell you that your hands and fingertips contain countless sensitive nerve endings. So when you try to pull out a hangnail that’s still attached to a live part of the skin or nail bed, these nerve endings will send pain signals to your brain, loud and clear.

What Do I Do If I Get One?

It’s crucial to note that you should NEVER pick at a hangnail! The best way to treat one is to douse your fingertip in hydrating oils (like Vitamin E) until the hangnail has softened. This can take a few hours, or a few days, so don’t rush it. Once the hangnail is finally soft, you can remove it or trim it minus the pain.

Mastering a Painless Removal

Removing a hangnail can be tricky, so using child nail clippers is highly recommended. They’re small enough to effectively remove the fragment, and they’re made sharp for quick cuts (children usually fuss over having to sit still). If you’re just looking to trim your hangnail, try using a small cuticle scissor or a nipper, and remember not to get too close to the skin.

Tip: Do not use large clippers for removal! Using these can result in pinching off pieces of live skin…and that will cause a whole other problem.

An Ounce of Prevention…

You don’t have to be enrolled in an esthetic college to know that the most effective way to prevent a hangnail is to put a swift stop to your biting habit. Beating this habit will also ensure healthy, beautiful nails that you won’t be embarrassed to show your manicurist. It’s also a good idea to keep the area around your nails hydrated to prevent the accumulation of dry, brittle skin. Try moisturizing with a jojoba based cuticle oil, a hypo-allergenic cream, or Vitamin E oil two or three times per day.

Do you have any tried and tested tips for beating a nail biting habit?