Nails on Chemo

Hi Ladies,


Just a quick poll, what are we all doing, if anything, to protect our nails during chemo, particularly the T part.


I’ve been wearing dark nail polish but I’m really struggling with it, I have been a life long nail biter until I started chemo so I’m rubbish at putting on nail polish. I tried to do them again tonight but they look like they’ve been painted by a 5 year old!


I’ve been massaging coconut oil, almond oil, Burt’s Bees cuticle cream (not all at the same time!) into my nails also.


Anyone using evonail, shellac? I know, strictly speaking, we are not supposed to use nail salons during chemo but has anyone tried it?


Many thanks.



I had my first TC last week and I have bought these:


Not used them yet but I have been using horse hoof oil because a horsey friend gave it to me and I thought it can’t hurt.

Hi Hazel,


There’s quite a lot on nail care in the chemo tips & tricks thread but it’s a long way back - currently page 9!  But this link should take you there:


I have every sympathy with you.  I’m a life long nail tearer.  My nail painting skills aspire to be as good as a 5 year old’s but I have improved.  I started going for once I realised chemo was in the pipeline because I knew I needed to a) stop biting/tearing, b) improve my cuticles which were always torn and c) that it would give me something to do and might make me feel a bit better.  Never being one for the girly, it’s been quite an eye opener.  Like you, I’ve used Burt’s Bees cuticle cream which has been fab, not a quick or torn cuticle in sight.  I use buckets of handcream too.  I’ve also used a nail strengthener, a chip resister as well as two coats of colour and a top coat.  Then an acetone free remover when necessary.  All the polishes I use are ones that avoid the worst chemicals (I stick to OPI) and I’m afraid shellac is definitely not receommended :frowning: More info here: 


Having said all this, FEC has caused my nails to dry and become so brittle that they now flake continually and I’ve just had to give up on the painting :frowning: I was having to do it every day which is just ridiculous.  So I’m left with discoloured yellowy flakey nails but my cuticles are still good!


B x

Hi ? I finished FEC-T in May and did the following, but I have to say my fingernails turned yellow/brown from halfway up and over the last few weeks split and peeled off about 1/4 way. Now I have always had a real nail phobia and have always had really strong nails so was absolutely dreading anything happening to them - but I have to say it really isn’t as bad as I thought! I’m still painting them (base coat, 2 coats of colour and top coat) and no one would really notice the state they’re in.
Anyway, here’s what I did - and maybe if helped me keep them for so long? Maybe it helped them not get so damaged - who knows!
I used OnicoLife nail drops twice a day while on FEC then painted them a dark colour for the T cycles applying the nail drops each time I changed the nail varnish. I also used a gentle remover. I kept my nails as short as possible.
I’m still using the nail drops and once the discoloured part of the nails have grown out I’m going to stop painting them (dries the nails out?) and just keep up with the nail drops as I believe to hormone therapy I’m now on can also make your nails dry and split.
Well I’m not sure how helpful this is!!
Good luck with the remainder of your treatment
Take care, Kim xx

I used Opi nail envy strengthener  (was recommended by someone here) and nail oil for the fec part and Opi  hawian pink strengther for the T as I to looked  like a 2 years old had painted with dark polish (used it on toes). Palmers concentrated cream worked wonders on dry hands an cuticles. Early days  as chemo only finished  last week but up to now apart from being yellow don’t have any other problem fingers crossed!

Thank you all so much for your replies and sharing your experiences.


I’m going to have to ditch the dark nail polish, on my hands anyway, as I look ridiculous.


I will check out the links you have provided.


Again, many thanks.


Hazel. x

What no nail salons?  Really?  I’m due to start chemo on Friday and was told by a friend who has gone through chemo to keep up with the shellac. Tell all!

Hi Kim I was told it’s the nail varnish remover which dries them out & the nurse recommended Benecos nail varnish & remover because it’s made of natural ingredients.  It looks just like any other varnish, but you have to rub a little harder to get it off. I carried on using onicolife drops after chemo & haven’t had many problems, but I have noticed a lot more vertical ridges in my nails than before chemo.  I am wondering if they will ever go back to normal. Does anyone know? xx

Hi ladies, I finished 6 cycles fec-t at the end of 2013
My onc said the theory behind the nail thing is this:- the fec mostly leaves ridges on the nails, it’s the T bit (docetaxol) that makes nails fall off, the more T you have the more you’re likely to loose a nail or 2 - good news if you only having 3 doses of T you rarely loose a nail. He said it’s thought that the T drug reacts with ultraviolet light in the nail bed.
You don’t necessarily have to use a dark colour varnish just make sure it’s not transparent ie any solid colour will do.

I never left the house in daylight hours without wearing gloves (A bit easier for me as I was having T during the winter)
I also had shellac put on my nails every 3 weeks - however I soaked it off at home prior to next application so I could do it carefully. I didn’t loose a single nail - they felt a bit bruised at the end and a weird colour like I was a heavy smoker but that grew out eventually.
Best of luck

Nikki do the ridges grow out eventually too? BBx

Anyone tried Evonail treatment? Also just received a Leighton Denny crystal glass nail file in the post. I got my nails done at my local Cancer charity and they used one of these. You can file in both directions and they are much kinder on the nails than emery boards apparently. They get rave review, just google them.



Hi ladies,
I have my last chemo next week which will be my last T of a 6 session course of FEC - T.
After my first T my nails became very sore and sensative particularly to heat, even the sunshine!! I’d read all sorts about protecting nails with dark nail Polish and uv protective Polish.
I did try some thick coats of Polish when the sun ‘hurt’ my nails but after a couple of days I felt I needed to let my nails breath!!
With gel nails you obviously have to put your hands under a uv light so personally I feel it’s not the best option. I have moisturised and moisturised my hands even using heel cream in the end because I found it to richer. I also used rubber gloves for the first time ever to protect my skin and nails from heat of the water and chemicals when cleaning, washing up etc.
My nail’s have gone a slightly different colour but nothing major and after my second T they where no where near as bad! Fingers crossed for my last one.
Hope this helps.
Ps my toe nails where not effected in the same way only finger nails! I also read about using cold to reduce the effect during treatment a bit like the cold cap therapy.

Well I appear to have cursed myself as my little finger nail has started to lift :frowning:

Foxy I used the cold mitts & slippers & had no lifting or any other problems as a result BUT they were absolutely freezing.  Yes, yes I know that’s the point, but it was a bit like walking in the snow with no shoes on…you get the picture.  I don’t think it would be for everyone, but it certainly works if you can stand it & I had 3 FEC & 12 paclitaxels. xx

I will actually be starting chemo next week and one of the things I asked my oncologist about was my nails. I get shellac every 3 weeks and asked if this is a problem, to which he said not at all and just continue doing what I do.

So I’m going to go for it until I notice any issues, fingers crossed none.

I’m a nail technician…due to start chemo in the next few weeks!  Confused with the whole can I carry on doing my own nails with gel or not!! Obviously I want to try and keep things as normal as possible for me during these next daunting months ahead!  And any advice on whether I’m gonna feel well enough to do other people’s nails ?


Starting to get panicky ?