How to Get Rid of Hangnail with Household Items

Updated on December 9th, 2019
how to get rid of a hangnail

The edge of the nail is home to many nerve endings(1), and the hangnail presses on them. The pressure on the nerve ends is responsible for the sharp pain that is associated with hangnails. They can even become swollen and red. So how to get rid of a hangnail?

Did You Know?

Hangnails occur most in cold climates.

Natural Remedies for Treating Hangnail

Home remedies are inexpensive, effective, and readily available hangnail treatment. These remedies can be broadly classified as foods and vitamins.

CURE 1: Foods

Hangnail is a common problem. However, some people are more prone to it due to certain deficiencies in their diet. Consuming certain foods also improves your body’s ability to heal and therefore staves off infection.

1. Whole Grains

Whole Grains health

Why Does it Work?

Whole grains(2) are rich in iron, protein, vitamins, and folic acids. Iron prevents the nails from becoming brittle. The protein in whole grains also helps in keeping the area around the nail soft. Dryness and brittle nails are some of the common hangnail causes.

How to Use it?

It is incredibly easy to incorporate whole grains into your diet. You can opt for whole-grain pasta or bread, have oatmeal for breakfast, and add some grains to your salads.

[ Read: Simple Ways to Strengthen Nails ]

2. Lean Meat

Why Does it Work?

Lean meat is high in protein(3) and iron and contains many vitamins. These work in tandem to keep your skin moisturized. The deficiency of these vitamins may lead to psoriasis and brittle nails, which can contribute to the creation of hangnails. Since the fat content in lean meat is very low, it is one of the healthiest ways to add iron to your diet.

How to Use it?

Chicken, turkey, and red meat with its fat trimmed are considered lean meat. You can add them to salads and sandwiches, and even grilling or baking them will amp up your protein and iron intake.

Hangnails are also known as Stepmother’s blessing.

3. Fish

Fish Benefits

Why Does it Work?

Fish are an excellent source of protein, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids(4). The fatty acids help keep your skin moisturized, prevent excessive drying, and improve nail health by making the nails stronger. Consuming fish can also improve your immunity and prevent hangnail infection.

How to Use it?

Make fish a part of your daily diet. You can grill it, poach it, bake it, or make fish curry. Choose fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids like sardines, mackerel, salmon, tuna, etc.

[ Read: Treat Ingrown Toenails Naturally ]

CURE 2: Supplements

1. Vitamin C

Why Does it Work?

Vitamin C aids the production of collagen and also increases the strength of the nails(5). Moreover, a regular hand and foot soak in warm water mixed with lemon or orange juice helps in keeping your skin soft and eliminating bacteria. It can prevent hangnail infection and even reduce hangnail pain since citrus fruits are also anti-bacterial.

How to Use it?

You can consume a glass of citrus fruit juice every day. A foot and hand soak at least once a week will help you prevent hangnails. If you have a hangnail that is infected or painful, the soak can soften the area and reduce the pain.

[ Read: Vitamins for Strong Nails ]

2. Vitamin B

Why Does it Work?

Vitamin B is essential for cell growth and can impact the health of skin, hair, and nails(6). A hangnail by itself is harmless. However, a swollen hangnail can cause a lot of pain. Increasing the body’s ability to heal itself by consuming more vitamin B is the best way to let your body take care of the hangnail on its own.

How to Use it?

Salmon, green leafy vegetables, eggs, legumes, yogurt, sunflower seeds, etc. are some of the richest sources of vitamin B. You can easily incorporate them into your meals or even have them as a snack.

Regular manicures keep the skin moisturized and regularly remove the dead skin cells around the nails.

3. Vitamin E Oil

vitamine E oil for hair growth

Why Does it Work?

Vitamin E oil can protect the skin(7) around the hangnail upon application. Vitamin E is also anti-inflammatory. It is a fat-soluble oil that can fight the free radical damage caused by the environment. Vitamin E is a commonly used ingredient in many skincare products precisely for these properties.

How to Use it?

You can apply a drop of vitamin E oil directly on the hangnail using a cotton swab or a small brush. Do this a few times a day to reduce hangnail pain.


The adage ‘Prevention is better than cure’ holds strong here. Rather than worrying about how to fix a hangnail, it would be better to concentrate on how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

  • Dryness is one of the leading hangnail causes. Keeping your hands and feet moisturized is the best way to heal and prevent a hangnail.
  • You should also avoid overfilling your nails, especially towards the edges. It disturbs the skin around the nail edges and leads to hangnails.
  • Maintaining good hand hygiene will ensure that even if you do get a hangnail, it doesn’t get infected.

Hangnail is not a serious condition, but it can cause considerable discomfort. The good news is that it can be treated with a nutritional diet and home remedies. A little care on your part and regular moisturization can prevent the occurrence of hangnails.

When you do notice a hangnail, abstain from ripping it off as it will only end up aggravating the situation further. Instead, try any of the remedies mentioned above, and not only will you get relief from hangnail pain, but you can also keep it at bay in the future.

[ Read: Make Nails Grow Stronger and Faster ]


1. Is hangnail a sign of vitamin deficiency?

Hangnails aren’t a sign of any deficiency. However, consuming a diet rich in vitamins can help in healing the hangnail when it does occur, and it can also prevent it.

2. Why does hangnail get infected?

Hangnail infection is caused by bacteria that finds its way into the gap created when the skin separates, leading to the hangnail.

3. Should I consult a doctor for a hangnail?

Home remedies are enough to tackle hangnail. But if the hangnail gets infected, red, or swollen and is causing unbearable pain, then you should consider visiting a doctor.

4. Does diet help in preventing hangnails?

Hangnails are primarily caused by dry skin. Certain foods aid the skin in retaining moisture. Certain food items also improve the skin’s healing ability. A well-rounded diet is the key to keeping hangnails at bay.

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