Nail Varnish / Gel Nails & Taxotere


I am due to start the Tax part of my chemo journey at the end of September.

I know that some people say that this chemo is hardest for the nails and to paint your nails with dark nail polish to help protect them – I was just wondering if I could get away with the gel nails?

Has anyone used gel nail varnish during chemo before – I am a little confused as they use UV light to seal them and thought this was what the dark nail varnish was to protect the nails from…

Any pointers in the right direction would be appreciated.


Hi I’ve just found this hope it might help u

cromercrab says on 26 Aug 2011 20:38
Rozita I really feel for you. I am a gel nail devotee! It would be great to offer that on a mobile basis. It might be worth putting flyers for it in chemo units. I have had gel nails all through taxotere chemo because they recommend you keep your nails covered. Gel nails are ideal for that. I have had my toes done as well. My nails normally last about 3 weeks. Our chemo unit also houses complentary therapy such as massage etc. If your hospital does this perhaps you could offer gel nails.
X sarah

until I was diagnosed BC I had for some years had the acrylic nails done in one of the american nail bars. With UV light to seal them.
What is the difference with gel varnish. Is it safe to have these but not use UV light? I find that ordinary nail varnish chips, my nails are not if very good condition after having acrylic nails for so many years.
P.S. Have one more FEC and then 3 taxotere.


I met a girl on the chemo ward who had gel nails and kept her nails all the way through TAX and this was on recommendation from someone else she’d met having TAX. I had mine done too, but am so ungirly and useless that I’ve banged and broken most of them off and am now scared to start from scratch as it does hurt the nailbed when you put them under the uv light and I’m not sure that it’s a great idea now that I’ve actually started the TAX.
So I could be the control of the experiment. Half gel nIls, half not…will any of them fall off?


I painted my nails on my hands dark blue all the way through taxotere and I’m still wearing it now, 3 weeks past my last chemo, only I’ve moved onto 3 coats of red polish.

Just so you know, none of them went black or fell off.

But I have got yakky looking nails under the varnish. They look like a heavy smokers nails, murky yellowy brown tinge and dark brown ridges on them. They’re very brittle, if I grow them much past my fingertips then they very easily tear despite hardener.

They did feel sore with any pressure on them whilst going through chemo, but fine since.

I didn’t paint my toenails but kept them covered, so no sandals or toeposts for me this summer - both my big toenails went half black at the sides but the rest of my toenails show no difference whatsoever and they aren’t weak either.
THey also felt tender with any pressure on them during chemo, fine since.


I was warned against gel nails because of the UV rays. Supposedly by putting dark paint on your nails, you are protectng them from UV rays (it’s the Tax that makes the nails hypersensistive to UV rays).

I painted my nails dark whilst having tax, also put them in nappy sacks filled with frozen peas whilst Tax being administered- I looked like a nutter but I didn’t care. I had my last tax on 15 June and I haven’t lost any fnger or toe nails yet. They are slightly stained looking and a bit ridgy (nothing that can’t be buffed awsay). The whites of my nails don’t look great but overall I am happy with them and now take daily skin, hair and nail supplements. I might have just been lucky to have got away lightly, I don’t know, but I am glad I tried the dark paint and ‘pea’ therapy.

Gel nails don’t use uv light
X sarah

Many thanks for all replies will go away and have another think on all these comments.

My gel nails used uv light…

I seem to have been very lucky with my nails, i finished my Tax 3 weeks ago and wore a dark blue varnish throughout, just adding another layer when it chipped!, when i took it off a few days back it took ages toi get though all the layers on toes too! but my nails look to be unharmed, normal colour and not brittle, but then i had really strong nails to start with. so i keep my fingers crossed that nothing will bite me on the bum now!

Hi Lisa poodlepatch and everyone, all the way thr tax everyone commented on my nails. long and strong and painted dark and used the “pea” therapy, so why now in last few days do my thumbnails and my wedding finger feel like they are no longer attached to me. they are attached but dont feel they are, they are slightly lifted, what can i do. i survived 6 months of chemo 3 fec 3 tax and kept them dark, why now - my last tax was 29 June and this happend this last week. still got dark nails, do i keep them dark or should i let the sun at them and get some much needed vitamin D? any advice be great tho all through chemo everyone asked me how i managed such super nails, will i be able to save them, its such a shame to lose them Sharxxxxxxxxxxxx

any ideas on nails, why are they lifting 2 months on - am still wearing dark varnish. but they feel unattached to me, will they come off. what can i do to help my nails = its quite painful, and sad after all the months of chemo they flourished now they die
Shar nxxx

the same happened to me- my nails were lovely and long throughout all of my treatment and I kept them well manicured- the best they have looked for a long time- then about 4/5 weeks after treatment finished they started to break and come away from the nail bed - I lost all of my finger nails half way down and one of my big toe nails- then today I have lost the other big toe nail nearly 4 months after chemo!!! The finger nails have grown back but are still very discoloured and tender to the touch I thought that I was going to loose them again a few weeks back but they have stayed put for now.
Just another se to put up with !!
Lizz xx

Thank u Biff, i think, did u put anything on them, did u pull them off after a certain time, do i put cream on them keep them dark, or let the light back at them im gutted, they survived and flourished and now they hurt so bad Shar xxx


I had my last chemo on 15 June, a few weeks before you had you’re last one. I noticed the whites of my nails were jagged and going further down my nail about 2 weeks ago. They haven’t got worse or better since then. I can’t feel mine coming loose and they are still fairly long. I have stopped using the dark nail polish as I thought it was only whilst the Tax was in our systems that our nails would be hyper sensitive. I am using nail hardener to keep them protected and trying to keep them out of water as much as poss.

I havent started tax yet, but heard that dark polish will help UV. Then on last visit to chemo ward for EC 2 nurse mentioned that dark polish wont work. He also said that they can use Cold Gloves for my Tax - it is same principle as cold cap. Not sure if ne one else heard or used cold gloves and if they worked.

Hi Bettyboo,

There’s been some discussion on here lately about the “cold gloves”. Here’s the link:

I hope this is helpful.

Very best wishes

BCC Facilitator

I’m so confused … I’ve got two black toe nails and have just finished 6 EC … the nurses said it can happen on any chemo, they just dont know.

Hello all

I thought I would post my experience - it seems similar to Biff and others.

The oncologist told me that fingernails often lift off after taxotere. He said he was not aware that dark varnish helped. Even so, I followed advice from the forum and loked after my nails all the way through. Rubbed them with nail-strenghtning oil; used Boots’ nail strengthener and then hard top coat and then a dark varnish over that. I noticed bumps a while after each chemo but generally all well. “Sorted!”, I thought. However, two months after finishing the chemo and after the radio - nails started lifting anyway. Over the next 6 weeks, 6 of my fingernails came off (and most of my toe nails). The others are lifting, but I’ve kept them clipped short and put hardener on. I don’t think I could have done any more to protect them - perhaps the cold pea thing - but the cold cap didn’t stop my hair coming out.

Chemotherapy is not pleasant at all - as you’ll know - but losing the nails has really been the most irritating. My finger tops are so sensitive, it’s like a small shock whenever I touch things. I’ve had plasters over them with masking tape over that to stop them peeling off. Such an attractive look! The nails are growing now and tips much less painful. I will never take my nails for granted again; it has been such a nuisance trying to do things. Oh - and yes, they are worse after being in water, so I use plastic gloves.

It does seem that if it’s going to happen, it will do. Perhaps taking care delays it or strengthens new growth, I don’t know.

It’s a minor matter compared with the big stuff, but it would be handy if there were some research on it.

Anyway good luck with them. It will pass, like the rest! Cheers to all HP

Hi hotpot - just thought I would post on here cos me too re nails, I had tax and my nails all through long and strong, did the cold peas thing, oil, dark varnish etc and I too thought I had defeated tax but no, a fews weeks back my thumb nails felt they were not attached to the nail bed, and a few other nails are following suit,. toe nails still ok not a prob there yet but the finger nails… so do i accept they were fall off, but why i thought i had got through it, but no, not at all…so do u recommend i put that micro tape on them, bit scared of catching them and them ripping off… Shar xxx