Don't pick or tear at hangnails. Otherwise, you're opening the door to infection by making a break in the skin where bacteria can enter. Clip the dry part of the hangnail with fine scissors, and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment. Keeping your hands, nails, and cuticles moisturized will help prevent future hangnails. If you have an ingrown nail, a saltwater solution will help ease the pain and relieve swelling. Add 1 tablespoon salt per quart of water and soak for 30 minutes. A saltwater soak can also make tough nails easier to trim.
Ways To Protect Your Toenails, Too
Toenails are most likely to fall prey to fungal infections. That's because the fungus that causes athlete's foot can invade the toenail after it's been injured.
Topical antifungals containing clotrimazole or miconazole will help defeat athlete's foot; apply them at the first sign of athlete's foot, hopefully before the fungus can invade the nail.
If the toenail does get infected, a prescription medication may be necessary to cure it.