When your clients come to the salon wondering how to get rid of a hangnail, they’re likely fighting the urge to rip it off. But by providing the right advice about removal and prevention, you can spare your clients a lot of pain.

Funnily enough, a hangnail isn’t even part of the nail — it’s a hardened piece of skin that develops around the edge of the nail. When it pokes and prods your skin or catches on surrounding items, the temptation to tear it off is unbearable. So what’s a person to do?

Prevent, Don’t Pull

The best way to avoid the torturous situation described above is to prevent hangnails from occurring in the first place. A hangnail is dry skin, so keeping your skin healthy is the best way to avoid developing one.

In addition to getting regular professional manicures, creating an at-home regimen for your hands and nails is critical for clients prone to dry skin. With faithful use, a daily microexfoliant cream will help gently remove excess dry skin. Recommend that your clients pair the cream with a professional-quality cuticle oil, too. They can also use the oil as a stand-alone if their skin is only mildly or occasionally dry. When the skin is excessively dry and cracking, advise your clients to use a cracked heel therapy on their fingers every night before bed.

When a hangnail does occur, the best advice you could give your clients is to resist pulling or chewing on it, as this tends to pull up even more skin and lead to pain similar to a paper cut or worse. Since hands touch countless objects every day, the opening in the skin created by a torn hangnail can attract bacteria and cause infection.

Good Riddance to a Painful Pest

Luckily, there are several safe ways to get rid of a hangnail. Advise your clients to let a nail professional safely remove it, when possible. If they simply can’t wait until their next appointment, they have a few self-care options. Recommend that they first assess the location of the hangnail. If it’s along the side of the fingernail, they should gently buff it off with a 240-grit file. If the hangnail is at the base of the nail or situated slightly away from the nail, they should use cuticle nippers or fingernail clippers to gently snip it off at the base. Once trimmed, gently buff the skin with a file to make sure you don’t leave behind anything that could snag.

Knowing how to get rid of a hangnail pain-free is no longer one of life’s little mysteries. You have the power to prevent hangnails, to remove them and to avoid sore fingers altogether. Encourage your clients to keep a sharp pair of nippers or clippers and a file in their purse, briefcase or backpack. They’ll be impressing their friends with their hangnail-fighting skills in no time.