Losing finger and toe nails

Hi everyone. I’m writing on behalf of my sister to ask if anyone can suggest anything to help with nail loss or, more precisely, the pain involved in this unexpected side effect.  She finished her chemo in April and has had her reconstruction  - then, just when we hoped things might be starting to level out, she started to lose her finger and toe nails. She is finding it really painful and debilitating -any suggestions would be gratefully received. Thank you! Debbie xx

Debbie it might be worth posting this question in the chemotherapy section in the going through treatment section of the site .


sorry to hear your sister is suffering, chemo is the gift that keeps on giving!

im not sure it will help but I would suggest any nails she has left she cuts as short as possible to avoid catching them on anything and breaking them. Also nail varnish can help protect although sadly depending on the chemo sometimes there is not much you can do… I’ve lost nails despite my best attempts. Nail supplements will at least ensure what grows back is strong but again that’s shouting the stable door after the horse has bolted…

some people suggested plasters to protect your fingers but to be honest I found that more annoying than having no nails…


Nail polish has helped me so much because I cant see the damage to my finger nails and it stops them ripping I also use The Body Shop  Almond Nail & Cuticle oil it helps the new nail grow stronger

I also occassionally treat myself and go to a nail bar to have them professional painted Something I would never have consider before getting breast cancer 

Mine have started snapping and flaking but I finished chemo 15 months ago! Surely it can’t be a result of that?

Hi Everyone, I finished my cancer treatment way back in 2011 and I am still experiencing problems with my nails. I know its not the biggest deal in the world, but my toenails constantly die/grow/die and last night a toenail came off! They are also horribly discoloured too so I have to weat polish constantly. 


Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I can do that may prevent them dying and falling off?


My fingernails thankfully dont fall off but they are certainly far more brittle and full of ridges than they were pre Chemo.


Thank you Sarah 

They sure don’t tell us this going through chemo! I cut my chemo short one session because of neuropathy. The nasty toenails grew out and I thought I was done. But no. I use Sally Hasen Hard As Nails clear polish. And now I get the Gel because it’s so strong at the nail salon…and just let it grow out. Fingers nails are ok weak but ok. My toenail looks like someone shoved something under it…leaving me concerned. And the toe next to it is half chemo yellow…toxins that I hope will grow out with the nail. But we have been poisoned in hopes to kill cancer. Grateful but just small annoyances. Chemo was 2yrs ago this timeframe.
At one point it looked like the skin under my toenails was removed from the nail… like not attached! So so far all in all I’m lucky! Good luck to all!

My nails are loose and fingers sore. I wear thin vinyl gloves for almost everything even the loo so that I don’t have to get my fingers wet. I just wash my hands with gloves on. My big toe nails are sore and weeping so I keep them covered. Does anyone know when/if they will grow back? 

I had never heard of this until sitting next to two Muslim ladies whilst I was waiting for my radiotherapy treatment one day. They had both had chemo and their nails had/were falling out! I was fortunate not to need chemo, I was borderline so insisted my tumour was sent to the US for their more comprehensive testing and it came back as not necessary - how you ladies suffer makes me weep. It seems to me that God has a strange attitude to the lives he created.