The most common causes of a hangnail are:
- Dry skin — causing the nail plate to splinter at the edges
- Nail biting — the result of nervously biting at the nail edges
Some curious hangnail facts
- A hangnail is actually skin. Its not nail at all — its dead, dried skin. The calcium and fiber-rich fingernail is made of a completely different material — keratin.
- Picking a hangnail causes injury. Instead of cleanly cutting a hangnail with a scissors or clipper — the recommended way to remove it — pulling and picking at it often results in additional skin being ripped off its attachment. The psychic pleasure of this to the obsessive-compulsive picker is actually a desirable thing. If pain and self-injury results — all the better.
- The “hang-“ part of the word “hangnail” actually has its roots in the Old English term Agnai — meaning “corn on the foot”. The coincidence of the old word — which lost its meaning — melding with the newer word “hang” resulted in the descriptive term we use today.
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