A hangnail occurs whenever a nail is trimmed back too much, when a person has bitten and ripped off the sin near their nail, and when the nail bed is no longer protected by the skin that cradles the nail itself. It can also be a direct result of severe dry skin.
When a hangnail occurs it is very prone to getting infected- like 70% chance of infection. An infected hangnail will become red, inflamed, very sore, and sometimes leak or drip pus.
There are some ways that you can prevent and treat a hangnail so that it does not become further infected.
Infected Hangnail: Prevention is Key
The best way to not get an infected hangnail is to prevent the hangnail, period. Some of the protocols you can use are:
- Stop biting your nails
- Be more careful whenever you are trimming and grooming your nails not to cut too deep
- Use moisturizer to hydrate dry skin
- Do not bite the skin around your nails
- Keep nails trimmed regularly and clean
If it is too late, and you are already experiencing the negative effects of a hangnail- try the following to help prevent it from getting infected:
- Keep hangnail clean- use hydrogen peroxide or gentle soap and warm water.
- Do not pick at it or try to further remove the nail- leave the nail be other than keeping it clean and sanitary.
- Do not put the finger or hangnail in your mouth
- Use caution when cleaning, or working with dirt, debris, chemicals, and food.
If the nail is already infected it will begin to swell, cause more pain, and even drain pus or fluid. At this time, you should:
- Soak the nail in salt/water for 20 minutes or so to clean out the bacteria and pus.
- You can apply an antibacterial topical cream or ointment such as Neosporin to help heal the infection.
- If symptoms worsen after various aforementioned treatments are rendered, you may need to seek immediate attention via a doctor who can better treat it according to the infected hangnail severity.