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How To Treat A Swollen Hangnail? Know More About Its Causes And Symptoms



Swollen Hangnail Understanding The Symptoms, Causes, Treatment And Prevention

A hangnail is a very small tear in the flesh near the end of the fingernail. Hangnails are a common issue with fingernails, but they can also occasionally occur on toenails. An infection happens when bacteria or fungi get under the skin. The medical name for an infection between the epidermis and the nail is paronychia.

There are several ways to treat a hangnail infection on a finger. The infection can very rarely spread to the hand or foot. This can be extremely dangerous, leading to a loss of feeling or motion and increasing the likelihood that the extremities will need to be amputated.


One of the most typical hand infections is paronychia. The lateral nail fold and perionychium (the nail’s surrounding tissue) are both impacted by the infection that exists between the nail and the epidermis. Both adults and children can have it, but it usually doesn’t get too bad.

Two varieties of paronychia exist:

  • Acute Paronychia: Appearance that is sudden and may not last long; typically affects the fingers.
  • Chronic Paronychia:  Paronychia that lasts longer, affects your fingers or toes, and either doesn’t go away or continues returning.
Acute & Chronic Paronychia

Symptoms Of An Infected Hangnail

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • A Warm Feeling
  • Some Bleeding
  • A Pus-Filled Abscess At The Nail Edge

Bacterial infections may produce symptoms instantly, while fungal infections may take longer to appear.

Causes Of Hangnail

When the skin around the nail is inflamed or injured, hangnails develop. When bacteria or fungi enter the wound, infection occurs. If someone’s hands or feet are constantly wet, they are more prone to have an infection.

A hangnail may be caused by:

  • Dry skin
  • Nail-biting
  • Frequent sucking of a finger
  • Cutting the nails too short
  • Having artificial nails that contain glue or chemicals
  • Having the hands in water frequently,
  • Ingrown fingernails or toenails, which happen when the nail’s edge begins to grow into the soft tissue surrounding it, can also be the cause of infections around the nail.

Hangnail Complications 

  • The affected region doesn’t get better 
  • The affected area blisters and fills with pus after a week of self-care.
  • Other parts of the nail or finger start to exhibit infection-related symptoms.
  • If you detect any other unusual symptoms, such a change in nail colour or shape.
  • if you have diabetes and feel your hangnail is infected.

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Prevention For Hangnail

To avoid an infection from spreading to a hangnail:

  • Avoid peeling it, as further harm increases the risk of infection.
  • Use nail clippers to reduce the hangnail.
  • Maintain healthy fingernails and moisturize regularly.
  • Avoid nail-biting.
  • Avoid letting your hands soak in water for too long.

Treatment For Hangnail

Steps that can be used to treat a hangnail:

Soak in Warm Water:

Soak the nail in warm water for 15 minutes up to four times daily. This clears the region and improves blood flow.

• Cut The Hangnail Short.

 Trim the edges of the hangnail once it has become soft from soaking to keep it from sticking on anything and to lower the chance of future infection.

• Moisturize.

 To keep the affected region from drying out, moisturize it. This can stop the growth of more hangnails.

Additionally, people can lessen discomfort and swelling by using the RICE approach. In medical terms, RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

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When To See A Doctor

It could be necessary to drain the hangnail if it forms an abscess (a walled-off area of infection) or pus (thick fluid generated by the body in response to infection).

Your doctor may do one of the following to drain an infected hangnail:

  • Utilize a local anesthetic to numb the area
  • To allow the pus to drain away, use a device to lift the nail fold or make a tiny surgical incision.
  • Clean the place completely.
  • If there is a lot of redness surrounding the abscess, they may recommend an oral antibiotic to treat the infection. It is rarely necessary.

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Hangnails can cause discomfort and suffering. However, there are numerous techniques to avoid getting hangnails or do so less frequently. It may be possible to maintain healthy nail beds by washing your hands frequently and applying lotion to your nails, especially during the winter.

Avoid peeling or pulling at a hangnail because doing so increases the chance of infection. If your infected hangnail does not get better or gets worse, get medical help.

Cameron Reedwood is a seasoned and dedicated news reporter and writer known for his passion for investigative journalism and commitment to delivering accurate and thought-provoking stories to the public. With over two decades of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted voice in the world of journalism.

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