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Other names: Agnail
The bottom finger has a hangnail.

A hangnail is a tiny, torn piece of skin, next to a fingernail or toenail.[1]

It is typically caused by trauma to the fingers, such as from nail biting.[2] Treatment generally involves trimming the hangnail straight, after soaking the hand in warm water and followed by applying a moistriser and antibiotics.[3] Constant application of moisturisers and avoiding repeatedly keeping hands in water may help prevent hangnails.[4] However, they tend to recur.[3]



Hangnails can become infected and cause paronychia, a type of skin infection that occurs around the nails. Treatments for paronychia vary with severity, but may include soaking in hot salty water, the use of oral antibiotic medication, or clinical lancing. Paronychia itself rarely results in further complications but can lead to abscess, permanent changes to the shape of the nail, or the spread of infection.[5] Hangnails will also usually hurt if pulled as it may pull too much skin with it not just the dead skin.


Daily use of hand lotion (or hand cream) or cuticle oil may help prevent the formation of hangnails.[6][4]


For home treatment, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends washing the hands, clipping the loose piece of skin with a clean nail clipper or nail scissors, and applying over-the-counter antibiotic ointment if the area appears inflamed. Persistent hangnails should be evaluated by a physician.[7]


  1. James, William D.; Elston, Dirk; Treat, James R.; Rosenbach, Misha A.; Neuhaus, Isaac (2020). "33. Diseases of the skin appendages". Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (13th ed.). Edinburgh: Elsevier. p. 787. ISBN 978-0-323-54753-6.
  2. "Nail terminology | DermNet NZ". dermnetnz.org. Archived from the original on 12 April 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jangra, Ravi Shankar; Gupta, Sanjeev; Singal, Archana; Kaushik, Apurav (1 November 2019). "Hangnail: A simple solution to a common problem". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 81 (5): e123–e125. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2019.06.006. ISSN 0190-9622. PMID 31549632. Archived from the original on 14 April 2022. Retrieved 14 April 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Thomas P. Habif; M. Shane Chapman; James G. H. Dinulos; Kathryn A. Zug (2017). "20. Hair and nail diseases". Skin Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment. Edinburgh: Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 570. ISBN 978-0-323-44223-7. Archived from the original on 2020-05-04. Retrieved 2022-03-27.
  5. Paronychia Archived 2016-07-05 at the Wayback Machine, MedLine Plus
  6. Treating a Hangnail - Topic Overview Archived 2016-09-11 at the Wayback Machine, WebMD
  7. Hangnails Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine, American Academy of Dermatology