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Other namesAgnail
Hangnail on left hand pinkie 01.jpg
The bottom finger has a hangnail.

A hangnail is a tiny, torn piece of skin next to a fingernail or toenail, related to ingrown nails. The hangnail's other scientific names are: eponychium or paronychium.[1] Hangnails are typically caused by having dry skin, or by trauma to the fingers, such as paper cuts or nail biting.[2]



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.[3] Hangnails may also hurt if pulled, as they may remain firmly attached to living skin.


Daily use of hand lotion (or hand cream) or cuticle oil may help prevent the formation of hangnails.[4][5]


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.[6]


  1. ^ "Hangnail", The Free Dictionary
  2. ^ "Hangnails: Causes, Treatment, Risks, & When to See a Doctor". Healthline. 2018-10-11. Retrieved 2021-01-14.
  3. ^ Paronychia, MedLine Plus
  4. ^ Treating a Hangnail - Topic Overview, WebMD
  5. ^ Thomas P. Habif; M. Shane Chapman; James G. H. Dinulos; Kathryn A. Zug (4 September 2017). Skin Disease E-Book: Diagnosis and Treatment. Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN 978-0-323-44223-7.
  6. ^ Hangnails Archived 2015-09-06 at the Wayback Machine, American Academy of Dermatology