Losing toenails on chemo


 I’m 10 of 12 treatments of Paclitaxel and Herceptin and toenails brittle and discoloured has anyone else had this and at what stage did they come off or did they heal ? I have also had 4 lots of EC preceding this lot

Hi Elizabeth,

I somehow managed to hang on to my toenails and finger nails whilst going through chemo ( 4 x EC and 4 x docetaxol) plus 18 rounds of herceptin and pertuzimab. All my nails became brittle and the big toenail on my left foot plus my small fingernail and ring finger nail  (left hand) starting to lift away from the nail bed. They felt very tender when ever any pressure was applied and they also turned an off white sort of colour. 
I half expected to lose them but never did. 
my last herceptin & pertuzimab infusion was feb 2021 and the discolouration and brittleness lasted a good 6 months after. 
in-fact my big toe is still not ‘normal’ and is very slow at growing. 
I guess no one knows why some people lose their nails while others don’t. These drugs effect us all so differently. 
All the best with your last few treatments and hopefully your nails will cling on. 


I’m now four months post chemo doing really well just having Herceptin every three weeks .My hair is growing back very grey and lots of chemo curl it’s between 1cm and 2cm everywhere and eyebrows and lashes back too. I also ended up having auxiliary lymph nodes removed all benign thankyou God.

As for my toenails they all hung on although very ugly and sore at the end . I think regular care from podiatrist helped me get through that tough time and now nearly back to normal but toes still slightly numb as are my finger tips. Also finger nails survived although discoloured and are nearly all pink and healthy again.

Sending hugs to all and hope you are all staying strong through this tough journey


I only lost a couple of toe nails because I bashed them just after I finished chemo. That was almost 18 months ago now and still neither has fully grown back yet. I think it’ll take another six months to a year for my big toe to grow back. (Had EC before Paclitaxel.)

There was a clinical trial a few years ago of a product called Polybalm which you rub into the nail bed 2-3 times a day during, and for a few weeks after chemo. It had very good results in the trial versus the placebo arm which used a basic Vaseline type product. I have a friend who had chemo in 2020 and is still having huge problems with some toe nails because they came off and then came back in growing. So hoping for the best, 2 x EC onboard, 2 to go then 12 Paclitaxel. I understand the Taxanes are one of the drug classes with the higher risk of bringing the tingling and nerve damage and numbness which obviously also adds to the accidental damage risk if you have problems with nails.  

I was advised to treat my nails with hardening and black nail varnish .

Only just started but will certainly will  try it after reading your post. Is it very painful ? I am thinking of you. Good luck.