Stupid frickin’ hangnails.

Would someone please explain to me why it is that when you get a hangnail you can’t help but mess with it constantly even though you’re annoying yourself endlessly by messing with it?

I’ve got one at the moment and I forgot to carry my fingernail clippers with me today. Arrgh!

22 thoughts on “Stupid frickin’ hangnails.

  1. Yea but then when you do rip it off it bleeds and hurts like hell for a couple of days.
    Oh well, at least I’ll never have to worry about acne again!

  2. Moses, agreed. Hangnails over acne any day. Besides, chewing at a finger in public is, for some reason, considered less offensive than popping a zit. I think it’s the “cute, puppy!” response in reverse; people just don’t like ooey gooey things as much.

    The trick to getting the hangnail out is to think of it as a sliver and attack just a bit back of where the hangnail actually is. It’s like that long piece of split-ply in toilet paper, you gotta move to the next closed section and break it off before trying to roll out more.

  3. EO, I like those clippers. smile
    I never carry a set with me – I have a pair in the car and another at home.
    I’m rarely far from either.

    I’ve got one at the moment and I forgot to carry my fingernail clippers with me today.

    If it all goes wrong I’ll walk up to any woman anywhere and ask for help whilst showing my nail.
    Women (not girls) are always prepared and most of them love to help a klutz. wink

  4. Patness: It’s like that long piece of split-ply in toilet paper, you gotta move to the next closed section and break it off before trying to roll out more.

    And there I was thinking I was the only weird one. LOL

  5. LJ wrote…

    If it all goes wrong I’ll walk up to any woman anywhere and ask for help whilst showing my nail.

    The whole reason I started carrying my own pair around with me is because of all the crap that women carry in their purses it seems like fingernail clippers are very low on their priority list. At least here in Michigan.

  6. all the crap that women carry in their purses it seems like fingernail clippers are very low on their priority list

    Shhh. What are you? Suicidal?  wink
    Perhaps I should have been more specific and said that I do ask for a nail-file.
    The other point being that I always carry 2 bandaids in my wallet if I get too picky and operations can wait till I get to the car or home.

  7. Would someone please explain to me why it is that when you get a hangnail you can’t help but mess with it constantly even though you’re annoying yourself endlessly by messing with it?

    To try and answer WHY
    It’s a focal point, a glitch in the self-image. It is something amisss in one’s system and since we are forgetful, we keep messing with it to remind ourselves that we need to deal with it, while at the same time hoping that manipulation will fix the problem so we don’t have to think about it any more. They are called hangnails cause they hang our minds, as well as catching painfully on objects. We are conditioned by the grief of catching a hangnail to want to rectify the situation ASAP, hence the constant messing to remind ourselves that we have a potentially more painful issue to deal with. Especially true for us ADD types.

    I’ve had them dry out sufficiently that a modest tug with a fingernail in the proper location will sever the offending glitch, but sometimes it tears into fresh flesh in the process of removal. Somehow the pain is worth it because it usually alleviates the hangnail condition. A scabrous cuticle is much more tolerable than a hangnail.

    To avoid hangnails as much as possible, moisturize hands or massage oil into cuticle/nail area and push cuticles back frequently. Your nails will be stronger and less likely to split and peel beause they need that oil, and your cuticles will be more flexible, less likely to split. Hangnails occur when cuticles dry out, any frequent manipulation of the area is likely to ameliorate dry inflexibility even without oils or moisturizer. Push your cuticles back with your other fingers whilst you ponder, no additional tools needed.

    I just love ‘Why’ questions.

  8. quasiloco: I just love ‘Why’ questions.

    And I love being entertained by amusing, yet credible, explanations.  smile

  9. LuckyJ: And I love being entertained by amusing, yet credible, explanations.

    Thank you, am pleased I could provide some plausible insights. I had 2 offspring to hone my skills with.

    Such flights of intuition are fundamental to discovery and progress amongst other things. I find such things a refreshing break from the PC lemming mentality prevalent in today’s socio-economic world millieu.

  10. I loved your explanation, quasiloco!

    My guess at an explanation would be a little different:

    Our brains are geared to respond immediately to new information—basically, sensory neurons fire a large number of impulses to our brain to tell us something new is going on. So, you normally notice the feel of your watch when you first put it on in the morning.

    Once you have your watch on for the day, you quickly forget about it. That’s because if nothing is changing, the number and frequency of impulses declines so that you don’t even notice the sensations anymore (habituation). Think about what life would be like if we constantly were aware of our every sensation —our clothes, shoes, the floor beneath us etc.

    I’d guess that hangnails work in a similar way—so that the sensory neurons fire impulses like mad letting your brain know that something is irritating you and you need to stop it.

    But you’ll remember that a change in information to the brain is far more important than an ongoing state.

    And hangnails have this strange tendency not to hurt sometimes—if they’re sitting just right, they don’t irritate at all for a few minutes—so you get no sensory impulse at all.

    But because you use your hands and fingers constantly, it isn’t long before something touches the hangnail again and the sensory neurons start firing madly all over again (new sensory input). Habituation never sets in because the irritation starts and stops for periods of time, so when the neurons send impulses, they do it at a high rate—basically telling your brain to do something about the frickin hangnail!!

  11. Why is it that the stupid little stuff always get the most attention?
    Oh well!
    Why does dirt taste funny?
    Why does farting feel good?
    Why does running a marathon give you the thrill of victory and the agony of da feet?
    What’s it all about – Alfie?

  12. Thanks for the etymology, Frac.  That ties hangnails together nicely with “anger” and “angst” (a very Viennese emotion).  I’ll bet the idea of something “hanging” on to the nail contributed to the addition of the “h” to “(h)angnail”.

    A similar spurious etymology led CS Lewis and Shakespeare to spell “abominable” with an “h”: “abhominable”, presumably because they supposed it to be derived from “ab homine”, “against man”.  Actually “abominable” is from “ab omenari”, that is “to deprecate as a bad omen”.[/silly wordplay]

  13. Just dab a little cyanoacrylate on it, same thing for deepish papercuts and other non-suture-needing superficial annoyances.

  14. I had to look that up, as I didn’t know what exactly a hangnail was…and Wikipedia actually has a page about hangnails.

  15. Rob, I seem to remember hearing that cyanoacrylate was originally developed for exactly that purpose: to glue skin.  Any idea whether that’s true?

  16. Rob, I seem to remember hearing that cyanoacrylate was originally developed for exactly that purpose: to glue skin.  Any idea whether that’s true?

    Superglue – Synthetic Glue
    Superglue or Krazy Glue is a substance called cyanoacrylate that was discovered by Dr. Harry Coover while working for Kodak Research Laboratories to develop an optically clear plastic for gunsights in 1942. Coover rejected cyanoacrylate because it was too sticky.
    In 1951, cyanoacrylate was rediscovered by Coover and Dr Fred Joyner. Coover was now supervising research at the Eastman Company in Tennessee. Coover and Joyner were researching a heat-resistant acrylate polymer for jet canopies when Joyner spread a film of ethyl cyanoacrylate between refractometer prisms and discovered that the prisms were glued together.

    Coover finally realized that cyanoacrylate was a useful product and in 1958 the Eastman compound #910 was marketed and later packaged as superglue.

    Was Super Glue invented to seal battle wounds in Vietnam?

  17. Thanks, EyesOnly.  Another urban myth shot down in flames, along with the alligators in New York sewers and the divinity of Christ. LOL

  18. It may be the “wrong” CA to use to close a wound, but my husband swears by the stuff he uses at work as a mold maker. He’s always slicing himself with his exacto knife, and he can’t be bleeding all over the maquettes!

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