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After getting a fresh manicure, there’s nothing I hate worse than spotting a piece of torn skin at the root of my fingernail aka a “hangnail.” Not only do they hurt, they are unsightly, making your nails look like they’ve been through the wringer.

According to France Liang, lead manicurist at New York City’s TenOverTen nail salon, “hangnails are caused by infrequent moisturizing.” But how do you keep them from happening? “You can prevent them by being conscious about moisturizing, and having them professionally cleaned up from time to time,” she shared with InStyle.

However, sometimes we still tend to get a hangnail here and there, even when our hands are manicured and moisturized. That’s when the right technique for dealing with them without making matters worse comes in handy big time. “The biggest mistake people make is trying to chew it off. That tears the skin and causes bigger problems,” Liang said. “Instead, rinse your hands in water for a few seconds, and apply a generous amount of hand lotion or oil to the area.”

Applying your choice of moisturizer helps smooth over the affected area until you can cut it off properly. But if you can’t wait and you do end up pulling it off, be sure to thoroughly clean the area so it wont’ become infected. Plus, a small dollop of  Neosporin and a Band-Aid to cover it will seal the deal.

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