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Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"How do I stop getting hangnails?"


I get terrible redness and hangnails around my fingernails all of the time! What can I do about it? I have to use my hands at work all day. Should I start wearing gloves or something?


Hangnails, as you probably know, are areas of dry and peeling skin that surround the fingernails. They tend to develop in people who work hard with their hands, as physical labor and exposure to the cold, water, or chemicals will dry out the skin on the hands and lead to cracking and peeling. Simple cases of hangnails can usually be treated with regular use of a hand moisturizing ointment or a cuticle protection cream.

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It would also be a good idea to wear gloves, as these will protect your hands when you are working. In addition to these steps, set up a visit with your primary care doctor to talk about the issue. Sometimes, excessive dryness of the skin on the hands (leading to hangnails) is related to a condition called eczema, and is not just from regular skin dryness. In the case of eczema, it is often helpful to use a topical steroid cream, in addition to a moisturizer. This is something your doctor can prescribe for you. Paronychia are areas of infection in the skin alongside the nail, and they often develop in the setting of hangnails. If you develop an area of painful, red skin alongside the nail, this might be a paronychia, and your doctor can help you to treat it.

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