Coping with TAX-related nail damage

Hi all

I am having a lot of problems with my nails, and wondered how others farther along the line have dealt with them.

My nails started lifting off during TAX treatment, and now, a couple of months later, they are starting to split and break off half way down the nail bed, leaving the top half unprotected and very sensitive. To start with I was glueing the loose bits down, but once broken off I’ve resorted to false nails to protect the sensitive areas. However, I’m concerned that having nails fixed with nail glue on top might prevent the new growth from developing properly. I’m also wondering if the new nail growth attaches itself properly to the nail bed.

Does anyone have any tips for coping with missing nails, did they grow back properly, and how long did it take? Mine, like my hair, seem to be growing extremely slowly.

Thanks - Sara x

Hi Sara,

I’m bumping this up to the top again as you haven’t had any replies as yet, which I’m surprised about as a lot of users discuss nail issues.

Best wishes

Jo, Facilitator

I had 4 Tax, finishing in March last year. By the end my nails were shot at. The ones that lifted off I kept covered with plasters until new growth showed and covered them in clear strengthener, until they covered the nail bed.
Even now they are still weak, ridged and quite brittle. They have grown properly though. As have my toenails - I actually lost complete nails on some toes. I always keep then painted now as they are not pretty enough to go bare.
I didn’t want to go down the false nail route as they are bad for your nail bed and natural nails even when they are strong as they stop oxygen getting through.
I had Herceptin also and that is bad for the nails, my only started to improve once Herceptin finished.
Sorry the news isn’t better.

Thanks for bumping this up Jo.

Hi SamLee - many thanks for your input. It’s good news at least that your nails have grown attached to the nailbed, even if they are still weak and brittle. Mine always were quite weak and split easily anyway. I tried using plasters - but maybe I’m just a messy person - they got dirty quickly and kept coming off - even the waterproof ones.

I won’t be having any further drug treatment as I’m triple negative, so hopefully my nails will start to recover soon. I know what you mean about the doubts on false nails. I wouldn’t get the permanent acrylic or gel nails for the reasons you mentioned. Years ago I had acrylic nails for a while and when they came off my own nails were in a terrible state. However, the exposed nailbeds are so sensitive and sore at the moment that I feel the need to protect them somehow.
Sara x

Hi Sara
Look after your nails really well, with a good hand and nail cream, I wore fine cotton gloves to protect my hands, even when I was at work, it helped a lot. I had 6 TAC back in 2008. It wrecked my nails, they are still not back to how they were before, they are ridged, split and flake all the time. Before TAC I had lovely strong nails. To try and hide them I did have a professional manicure last October to go to a wedding, with the varnish that goes under ultra violet light, acrylic I think. When it was taken off my nails were worse than ever and it has taken the last 12 months to get back to how they were before the manicure. Ridged, split and flakey. My hair has hever recovered either, prior to TAC I had thick hair although it was fine, now I am practically bald at the back and the rest is very thin and sparse. I am triple negative as well and I think since 2008 they have toned down the chemo a bit, it nearly killed me! I am grateful to be alive, but I do wish I didn’t have so many reminders of what I’ve been through.
Your nails will grow again, just give them plenty of TLC.
Love and hugs Nonny


hi Sara.
I had 3 FEC followed by 3 Taxotere. I read somewhere to paint my nails with dark polish throughout the Taxotere, which I did, religiously. Very dark purple/black. I completed my Taxotere on 19th August 2011. My nails became very hard and I thought Id escaped any damage. Until my birthday at the end of November. Exactly 3 months after finishing chemo. 5 of them lifted half way down and came off and the other 5 were thick, cream coloured half way down. I just kept them clipped as short as possible until the thick, cream bit had grown out, I was devastated when this all happened to my nails, as 3 months post chemo, with my hair slowly coming back, I thought I was through all the side effects. And this was a very visual reminder. I was embarrassed in shops entering my chip and pin. I thought everyone was judging me, and maybe they were.
Initially I hid them with plasters, but then decided that this drew more attention to them, In the end I just kept clipping them short and I painted them with Nailtiques (which I had always used pre diagnosis), which is a nail protein.

Now, 11 months after losing them there is just a tiny bit of discolouration at the tips of my nails which I assume is the last of the damage, In the meantime, the tips are quite brittle, so I keep them a couple of mm long and still use the Nailtiques. My thumbs are the worst. They are very fragile and split vertically from the tips, so I have to keep them very short, until this last bit of rubbish is gone. But be warned, it does take a LONG time for a whole new nail to replace the damaged one.
I also lost one big toe nail. That has nearly grown back. But both nails have a big ridge across them, which I assume will eventually grow out.
Oh the joys!!!
Good luck. Just be patient!!!1
Love Mandy xx

HI there,
my nails got photographed for the med students when I had my Tax!!! Awful colour - but didn’t loose them - then wore nail hardener stuff, for months and months now 2 years 3 months on they are fine and dandy and have been for a while.
all the best

Thanks to everyone for your input. My reactions to TAX seem to be closer to Nonny’s. I’m also triple negative and I think I had strong doses of docetaxel and got every side effect known to man. I think my body reacted strongly… the up side being that the TAX obliterated the tumour, which according to my onc was ‘rare’ - but on the down side, it meant that I got all the SEs in spades.

I used to have thick hair, but nearly three months after my last TAX I only have patchy regrowth and it’s still only about 1/4" long. I seem to be losing a nail every couple of days - 6 down, 4 to go! I haven’t dared look at my toenails - I have nail varnish on them and as they are growing so slowly I haven’t needed to reapply it in 2 months.

Mandy, I agree that I think my frustration with it all is that it’s such a visible reminder of what I’ve been through, when I just want to put it all behind me and feel ‘normal’ again.

Flori35 - I’m glad your fingernails have recovered well and it sounds as if you’re well on the way to being able to have a hairstyle at last.

Sara x