I bet that you’ve never used the term “paronychia” when talking about your fingernails. Paronychia makes me think of a scientific name I’d long forgotten in Biology class and frankly it’s kind of gross-sounding. So let’s use the common and familiar term hangnail because everyone knows what that is.

Most women (and a few guys) have this figured out the nail care thing by the age of 7, but I’m a dude and it’s not at the top of my list. Now, I don’t do manicures. (Well, okay my wife offered a manicure one time and it was pretty awesome because I fell asleep.) I admit that nail care should factor into my daily or weekly routine somewhere along the way. The only way I could make that a reality is if I had a 2-minute weekly routine in which I could trim my nails, and work on preventing them.

What is a hangnail and what are the best ways to prevent and treat them?

hangnail2A hangnail is a piece of skin that forms at the edge of the nail bed when the skin becomes dry and a small portion of it cleaves from the intact skin. The problem with hangnails, is, they can “catch” on materials and other objects that come in contact with our fingers and they can be really annoying. They aren’t really a problem until you start pulling or biting them and at that point they can become infected.

If you have already have hangnails how should you get rid of them?
Break down and buy a pair of cuticle clippers! They work and you don’t have to take them with you, just keep them trimmed once a week and things will be good.  If you have a nail that gets infected because you just had to bite them off, then I suggest using a non-petroleum based salve that has compounds with antimicrobial properties in it.

So what is the best way to prevent hangnails?

  1. Hydrate – When you’re not properly hydrated your skin will dry out and when it does, hangnails will be more of a problem. So drink enough WATER to stay hydrated and that should help.
  2. Eat more fat – Fat is really important. The fats we consume are taken up into the cell membranes and used to help form the integrity and fluidity of the membranes. “Bad quality” fats are bad for cell membranes because they impair the function of the cell membranes and tissues and they cause inflammation. Good fats like Omega 3, 6 and 9 fats help keep tissues “lubricated” and working efficiently.
  3. Use fats topically. There are a number of good options here but the important thing is, don’t use petroleum based products if possible. Use fats that are minimally processed and organic to get the best results.I like to use coconut oil for because it’s cheap, it’s great for the skin, and it smells like vacation.

   -Dr. Hyatt


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