Hangnails are those uncomfortable pieces of torn skin that hang loosely next to the nail. Although it would be logical to think that it is a condition that affects the nail, it really is a skin condition.
Many people suffer from its appearance, and it can become infected more quickly than is thought. To reduce this problem in the fingers of the hands, it is interesting to know what its origin is and how we can avoid it.
What are stepfathers?
As we said before, these are irritating and irregular pieces of skin that stick out rigidly around the sides of the fingernails. It is rare for it to occur on the toes. They may be small, but the pain, irritation, and discomfort that hangnails cause are not.
Its origin has multiple causes, including cracked and brittle skin. They can occur more often during winter, as the skin is prone to being dry and tight during cold weather. Also, anything that dries out the skin on your hands can make you more prone to hangnails.
People who bite their nails or cut their cuticles too close to the nail bed may also have hangnails more often. And the real danger is in increased infection from having an open wound.
This skin problem is very common and can be caused by several things. Some people get them when their skin is dry , such as during the driest and coldest days of winter or with repeated hand washing. Hangnails can also be caused by trauma, such as a paper cut or excessive nail biting . Those who are in the habit of removing their nails and surrounding areas are more likely to have hangnails than those who do not.
Doctors, nurses, carpenters, and food workers are more likely to have stepparents from the use of their hands during their work.
How to take care of a stepfather?
If you have a stepfather, you shouldn’t try to rip or tear it off. If you remove it, you can also remove the extra skin that will expose more inner layers of the skin to bacteria. This can also aggravate the hangnail area, which can cause it to become slightly red and swollen.
To prevent infection and irritation, wash your hands before touching it. Then place your hand on a clean surface, palm down. Gently trim away excess skin from the hangnail with a clean pair of nail clippers or scissors. If you can’t do it yourself, ask a family member or friend for help. It’s also important that you don’t apply nail polish near hangnails, or use nail polish remover on top. All of these chemicals could aggravate the situation.
You can also consider putting an antibiotic ointment or cream on the area to protect the skin from bacteria. If the stepfather does not improve in two weeks or shows signs of infection, go to the emergency doctor to be prescribed antibiotics. Usually, a common nail does not require a visit to the doctor. However, consider going to the doctor if the stepfather becomes infected or meets any of the following problems:
- The area does not heal in a week.
- Blisters and pus form around the injury.
- The infection travels through the beds of the fingers and nails.
- Your nail changes color.
- The nail becomes weak.
- Do you have diabetes.
Possible nail complications
Stepfathers are at risk of infection. If they are exposed to bacteria or fungi, an infection can develop. Therefore, it is important to keep your hands clean and free from dirt and debris.
The most common symptoms of infection are red and swollen skin surrounding the lesion, pus surrounding the nail bed or hangnail area, skin that is warm to the touch, fever or chills, and increased pain or throbbing in the finger. Covering the area can prevent further infection and prevent the wound from infecting others.
Infections near the nails are called paronychia , and they can be painful. Sometimes paronychia causes pus and swelling around the injury site. A doctor may need to drain this pus to cure the infection. Other times, the infection can be treated with some of the same treatments that you use for hangnails, including warm baths and antibiotic cream.
An infection that lasts longer than 6 weeks can be a chronic condition. A doctor can advise on the best treatment for this condition. In rare cases, the infection can spread to the hand or foot, but if it happens it can be very serious. It could cause a loss of sensation or mobility and can put the limb at risk for amputation. Infections are more likely to spread in people with diabetes or other circulatory disorders.
How to remove hangnails safely?
The main thing is not to give in to temptation and avoid trying to rip or bite the stepfather. This is likely to tear the skin, which is still attached to the nail bed. Once opened, that area of the skin can bleed or become vulnerable to bacterial or fungal infections. To remove a hangnail effectively and safely, we recommend that you follow these tips:
- Wash your hands to avoid spreading germs.
- Soften the hangnail with warm soapy water. You can also apply mineral oil or petroleum jelly very gently to the area in a circular motion. Let the stepfather soften up for about 10 minutes.
- Use a disinfected nail clipper or cuticle scissors to cut away the hangnail. This can be difficult to do if the stepfather is in your dominant hand. Be sure to cut only the part of the hangnail that is sticking out, and not the live skin underneath. Try to cut off as much of the dead skin as possible so that nothing is sticking out of the nail bed.
- If you accidentally cut yourself too much and bleed, rinse with water, cover with antibacterial ointment, and cover the area with a bandage until completely healed.
- If you cut the hangnail without drawing blood, moisten the area quite a bit.