What do you call a piece of dead skin next to the nail bed of your finger?

Usually this piece of dead skin is rather thin — and it isn’t very wide, either, but the longer it is, the more it hurts. I usually start noticing these pieces of dead skin when one of them gets to be about half an inch long and hurts whenever I touch it.

Is there a better way to describe this piece of dead skin? I’ve tried to find a picture of it on the internet to link to, but I found some rather disturbing pictures instead.

  • 3
    I don't see how this is a duplicate. The answer to this question (hangnail) does not appear anywhere on the linked question or answers.
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 22:28
  • Yep, it's a hangnail.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 2:45
  • Half an inch long?!? When I get them, they hurt like a mofo after they reach about 2 mm in length! Half an inch would be down past what Wikipedia informs me is called the distal interphalangeal joint! Argh! Commented Aug 16, 2015 at 22:27
  • Before it splits off from the rest of the skin and pulls away and begins to hurt, the sliver of skin is, I believe, called a cuticle.
    – Sven Yargs
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 6:04
  • i think it is not dead skin, but torn skin.
    – qdinar
    Commented Apr 26, 2022 at 6:46

1 Answer 1


I usually refer to various bits of skin off the side of my nail as hangnails, regardless of whether it is skin or part of my nail itself. But, from WebMD:

A hangnail is the strip of skin that separates from the side of the cuticle.

I refer to WebMD rather than a dictionary in hopes that it will help you treat your pain.

If the skin was puffy and then cracked open, it may be the after math of a popped blister or fungal infection. You may want to visit a dermatologist.

  • I also same some gruesome images while looking that up. :o Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 21:50

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