Hassled by hangnails?

Hangnails can turn into a source of distress and even pain, if due attention is not paid

Hangnails are those ugly tags of peeling skin on the edges of your nails. At first sight, they may just appear to be an eye-sore, but ignore them for a while, and they can turn into a source of distress and even pain.

What causes hangnails?

  • Improper care of hands and feet.
  • Dry and parched skin as it peels off easily.
  • Synthetic soaps and detergents as they may cause skin allergies—a trigger for hangnails.
  • The habit of biting nails.
  • Deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals like folic acid and vitamin C.

Ayurveda on hangnails

As per ayurveda, our nails are a derivative of our bones, which are important dhatus or tissues of our body. Therefore, problems like hangnails might relate to the imbalance in diet and lifestyle.

To treat hangnails, ayurveda focuses on proper working and invigoration of the gastric fire [jatharagni] and that of the tissue fires [dhatwagni]. Put simply, ayurveda suggests that maintaining healthy digestion to prevent hangnails.

Natural cures

  • Mix ingredients like honey, petroleum jelly and sesame seed oil/olive oil/almond oil in equal proportions and massage into the cuticles and the surrounding skin tissue.
  • Mix alum into some soothing cream or moisturiser and apply the same at the affected area. This provides an antiseptic cover to the peeled off area of hangnails.
  • Mix pulp of aloe vera and turmeric powder and apply it on the hangnail. You can even heat this mixture.
  • Roast some turmeric in mustard oil. When it is tolerably hot, apply it to nail edges and leave it for at least an hour. For better results, leave the paste overnight on the fingertips with the help of small bandages.
  • Drink hot milk or hot water with some turmeric twice a day. This helps as turmeric holds unique antiseptic and skin-healing properties.
  • Seal the torn out edges of the skin with some transparent nail paint.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Moisturise your nails twice a day. It provides softness and lustre and saves your skin from afflictions like hangnails, brittle nails, corns and calluses.
  • Avoid using synthetic detergents that could be harming the skin. If you have sensitive skin, use gloves when handling soap/detergent.
  • Every once in a while, soak your hands in warm water with some lemon drops added to it. Before retiring, give your hands and feet a thorough cleaning followed by moisturising to make them soft and supple.
  • Use good quality products on your nails and hands. Refrain from painting your nails frequently.
  • Get rid of the habit of biting nails for good.

If you still get hangnails, review your diet to rule out deficiencies.

Remember, never pull/tear a hangnail, but cut it neatly with a nail-clipper or a scissor; moisturise the skin with mild skin cream or oil before you do so. Pulling at hangnails only worsens the problem. It can even cause infections.

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