Removal and prevention. A hangnail is a tear in the cuticle or in the skin along the side of a fingernail. It is caused by dryness, picking, or biting.
It’s best to remove a hangnail as soon as you notice it, before it becomes painful or infected. Use clean, sharp cuticle scissors and clip it close to its base. Wash your hands, apply antibiotic ointment to the area, protect it with a small bandage, then leave it alone. Don’t bite or pull on a hangnail. If pain increases or pus forms, see a doctor.
To prevent hangnails, wear rubber gloves when washing dishes, and apply hand cream often. At bedtime, massage in cuticle oil or cream.