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Nails during chemo

35 REPLIES 35
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Re: Nails during chemo

Thanks, Carol!

I was wondering about my toenails - will use it on them too and hope for the best.

Annie x
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi Annie
I also used acetone free bail polish remover. I'm 5 weeks post chemo now and my finger nails are still intact so far (though from salsal50's comments above I might not be out of the woods yet!). I don't have any ridges, they're just a bit discoloured but you can see the new pink growth. I'm still using it, and will finish the bottle and hope for the best after that! I didn't use it on my toenails and I think I'm going to lose both my big toe nails - they've gone white and feel a bit loose!
Good luck with your treatment and may your side effects be minimal!
Carol x
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi all

Just found this thread and can relate to alal the comments above. I had FEC-T, but only 2 Tax due to repeated infections & hospital stays betweenchemo cycles. Now I am 10 weeks since my last chemo, I have started feeling stronger but the nail thing has hit me just when I thought I was getting over the worst of the side effects...I have lost all my finger nails and 7 toenails. I am glad to say they are not painful, just look awful, like I have bitten them all to the quick and the anil underneath is very soft...

I am reassured that they will come back to normal in time....but just fed up of having yet another issue to deal with!

salsal50

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Re: Nails during chemo

Sorry, only just seen your reply, Lois. Good - I've got some of that! x
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Re: Nails during chemo

Annie think I've read use acetone free nail varnish remover x
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi Choccy61, I've just received my bottle of Evonail but notice it says specifically not to use ordinary nail polish remover. Any idea why? Did you find any problems using it? Perhaps they just want you to buy their special stuff, but I wouldn't want to undo any good it's going to do!

Annie x
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Re: Nails during chemo

I wore black varnish throughout TAX but now 7 weeks after last chemo nails are coming away from the top down. I'm keeping them short and oiled with OPI cuticle oil and hoping they'll grow out soon. Like others I have one ridge for eah TAX but I tink its a small price to pay too.
MMM x
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Re: Nails during chemo

Happy to report that 4 months after last Docetaxol (Taxotere), my nails are looking healthy and almost normal.
I developed deep ridges - one for each round of chemo - that split and peeled 1mm before reaching the top of the nail bed. I didn't wear any varnish, didn't get similar toenail symptoms, but it was winter.
Point is, it moves on quite quickly, so keep them short and moisturise with a nail conditioner every night before bed, it seemed to reduce the splittng.
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Re: Nails during chemo

I have recently finished 18 weekly treatments of paclataxyl, my nails are the strongest they have ever been but they are discoloured and bruised and two of them are raising from the nail bed and are painful, I am seeing the consultant on Tuesday for my follow up appointment, am hoping there is no infection and that I don't lose my nails, I have my daughters wedding in October and I want my own nails, I know it is more important as a secondary breast cancer fighter that I am actually at the wedding, and I am probably just being vain x

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Re: Nails during chemo

mine have come off but the new nail is there just really short looks like I bite my nails really bad ,I use nail envy too but still dropped off ,also still have neuropathy although not quite as bad now .

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Re: Nails during chemo

I had false nails on when I was diagnosed so had them taken off before I started my chemo - I then started using Nail Envy and ended up with the most beautiful long, strong nails. As soon as I started the TAX I took extra care, oiled them, massaged them, plastered the Nail Envy on and painted them with the dark polish - all was well until about Christmas (finished the chemo in mid-November), when they started to go really grotty and ridged - then they started to split and come off - but always with a new nail underneath. Finally, they're now almost back to normal although I seem to have vertical ridges on some of them, but they don't seem to be breaking any more.
so, my nails are ok - just need to get my toilet brush hair style fixed next lol!
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi Geordiex
I was advised against false nails as the new nail can be quite weak - mine reach the tip of my finger, I get excited then they flake off! I am having herceptin til October and I have been advised that makes nails brittle too.
Good luck
Kahren
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Re: Nails during chemo

hi has nyone worn false nails while theirs are growing in ,mine are about halfway up the nail bed at the moment x

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Re: Nails during chemo

you could try OPI nail envy its clear ,I was too late in starting it and am losing half my finger nails from the cuticle up ,painless but rather a nuisance x

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Re: Nails during chemo

Can anyone tell me what men on Docitaxol etc do about keeping their nails healthy? I can hardly imagine men going for the black nail varnish tip!
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi everyone just bumping this up for July Junkies, Anyone have any tips on cream for dry sharp cuticles?
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Re: Nails during chemo

when your nails lift from the nail bed as mine have ,is there a softer nail underneath there appears to be with mine , but I'm trying to let them just grow out (the old ones) and keep them painted and put nail envy on any advice ? x

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Re: Nails during chemo

My nails were great through FEC chemo too - agree it seems to be the T which causes the trouble. However, since taking Tamoxifen they split, flake and break continually. Anyone else finding this?
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Re: Nails during chemo

yes its docetaxel and paclitaxol that are the culprits ,well certainly in my case :/

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Re: Nails during chemo

I've just had my 7th FEC and my nails have never been better too
I think it's the TAX that makes them fall off
X Yvonne
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Re: Nails during chemo

My nails are the best they have ever been been, they were always weak, but they look fab at the moment., I am on FEC only, so assume it's the T part that causes the problems
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Re: Nails during chemo

I don't think you can predict the effects. I've met some ladies who had no nail problems at all and others who had lost all their nails. This is my own experience. I had 6 cycles of Taxotere (the T part of FEC-T) starting in May last year and religiously painted my finger and toenails with dark varnish either black or purple as advised by the nurses at my unit. I used lots of nail cream too. I really can't tell whether it made any difference but it was something I could do for myself. My nails were a nightmare, first of all peeling, splitting and turning a nasty nicotine brown colour. I had a fungal infection that lifted the nails from the nailbed and made them weep and smell then formed scabs under the nails, the stuff of nightmares but apparently very common. The week after my last dose I had an infection under one pinky nail that wouldn't clear and as I was neutropaenic I was admitted to hospital for IV antibiotics. Eventually that nail fell off completely as the infected nailbed healed. I thought that was the worst over but in the months following I lost more nails from both fingers and toes. As they grew each dose had produced a ridge across the nails and the new growth was still discoloured. The last toenail fell off in January over 3 months after the last dose of Taxotere and inconveniently on the day before we were due to go on holiday just when I should have been having them done for going away. Now a whole 9 months after finishing chemo I have a full set of nails again albeit a few very small ones and some odd shapes. They are still weak and won't grow to any length before splitting and breaking and there is still some discolouration so I have to wear varnish but the newer growth looks normal again. The ridges and discolouration are now confined to the top third of each nail. I hope another 3 to 6 months will see them grow back completely normal. Whether they will ever be as strong as they were I just don't know.
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Re: Nails during chemo

thats true who knows if you didn't do all these things ,the outcome might be just the same x

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Re: Nails during chemo

thats true who knows if you didn't do all these things ,the outcome might be just the same x

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Re: Nails during chemo

I'm not convinced there is real evidence that any of this helps. Maybe the icing. But I have heard of people who take all the measures and still have issues, and people who do nothing and have none.

I even read that you should NOT paint your nails a deep colour because you could have an infection under the nail and not notice it!

If painting nails dark helps, then why would people who always wear shoes and socks lose their toenails?

Sorry if I appear a bit negative today. That's probably because I am.
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Re: Nails during chemo

I wish I had been told about what you could do to prevent things before the damage was done.

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Re: Nails during chemo

I dipped my fingernails in ice during chemo - including Tax - and had very little problems. It works in the same way that the cold cap can save your hair. It's not very pleasant but it seemed to work.

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Re: Nails during chemo

I only had one session of T, but five of Fec (long story). I've finished chemo now (May 23rd) but my nails are atrocious. the tips of fingernails went soft and white. So I bit them off . Then I had brown patches appear. Toenails went the same but you'll be relieved to know I didn't bite them off!! Then a ridge appeared at the bottom of the nail where it lifted, and I could peel the top layer off both fingernails and toenails. I did use black nail varnish whilst having Docetaxel, but not for any other session as I didn't think it was necessary.
I'm now eating a cube of jelly every day as they say that is supposed to strengthen nails.
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Re: Nails during chemo

My onc advised against the use of dark polish as it is important to know if anything is 'going on' under the nail ie infection. In my experience it really is the luck of the draw. I kept my nails short and polish free, and whilst they were softer than normal and prone to splitting, I never lost a nail. But I know girls who painted theirs black and lost loads!

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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi there
I'd read previous comments about using black nail varnish so once I started the TAX I religiously painted my nails with Nail Envy and then the nail varnish. I finished my chemo in November and my nails were beautiful - long and strong, but after Christmas I started to notice that they were discoloured and by March they started to split and break. To be honest, I thing it's the luck of the draw - some people won't lose their nails and some will - my finger nails now seem to be getting back to normal but my toe nails (haven't lost any of those so far) are still ridged.
Must admit though, I quite liked the black varnish!
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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi
My understanding is that black nail varnish is to protect the nails from UV, particularly with Docetaxel (Tax - the T part of FEC-T). I also read somewhere that only black works. My nails were fine on FEC and before I started on Tax I started using a product called Evonail which is available online from France or Belgium, but not cheap and the postage was almost as much as the Evonail! See here: http://www.farmaline.co.uk/en/search/Evonail/?gclid=CI6Bo8fX5rcCFaTItAodPxgAmw
Or http://www.sospharma.net/EVONAIL-Solution-pour-les-ongles-12ml-p-912-c-15_104_156.html

I'm from the March thread and one if the ladies in the thread lives in France and kindly told us all about it! Some hospitals also provide iced mits for toes and fingers (works like the cold cap). Evonail is a clear liquid which you apply twice a day to your nails and the surrounding skin because the nail beds can be affected on Tax. I had my second Tax just over a week ago and so far all my nails are intact, no ridges and my nail beds aren't painful - though with one more to go I know this can still change! I think you're advised to continue applying it for a few weeks after chemo finishes as the drugs obviously remain in your system fr some time. You should remove it once or twice a week and I just use regular nail polish remover for that.

Also, if you're lucky enough to still have eyelashes there's a product you can get from Boots called Mavala (£11) which might help you keep them, though it's not specifically for people on chemo. You apply it at night like mascara. I think I started using it too late as my long eyelashes have gone (apart from a couple on my left eyelid!) but all the time I've still got any lashes I'm going to continue with it! I can't believe I've become such high maintenance!

Hope this helps and good luck with your treatment.
Carol xx
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Re: Nails during chemo

my nails are lifting from the nail bed , OPI nail envy is very good but should be used before treatment starts x my chemo is taxol and thats just one of the side effects I have xx

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Re: Nails during chemo

Hi Penny47.....I had FEC-T Mar to Jun 2012. Chemo nurse said that with each 'T' treatment nails have a growth glitch, halt growing and then start again, hence the 3 ridges that become apparent afterwards. What happened to me (but not to everyone I'm sure) was that during July, August and September, bits of some of my nails fell off at each of the ridges as they got closer to the tips of my fingers. It wasn't every nail and fingers worse than toes. I used lots of hand cream/oil during chemo as my skin was soooo dry, but didn't paint my nails as chemo nurse said it wouldn't stop nails breaking and it was better to see if there was any infection under nails. Best tip is to keep your nails really short as although it does get sore when nails fall off, it's less painful if they're shorter. I was also advised not to push or trim cuticles as it could cause infection....however all advice seems different!
By December my nails were practically back to normal, although my last toenail has just dropped off!!
Hope that helps....best wishes for the rest of your treatment (if you haven't finished yet)

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Re: Nails during chemo

Kahren- absolutely. Thanks for sharing that. Did you try varnishing your toenails at all? I've been using one of those nail enrichment oils which are aimed at dry cuticles and seem to be largely almond oil and they seem ok but I can tell I am going to have to ratchet the treatment up a bit if I want to keep them. I heard somewhere the dark colour varnish is to mask the UVA rays of the sun (not sure it it's true).
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Re: Nails during chemo

The chemo treatments affect your nails quite a lot. Mine had ridges and were discoloured despite the dark varnish - that became more to disguise them than to protect them. After I stopped chemo you could see where treatments had been given - like rings on a tree.
My last chemo was Nov 2012 and my nails are just getting back to normal. They split across where the ridges were and were so weak. After treatment it is not uncommon for nails to fall off - I have been lucky to keep my finger nails, but have lost 7 toe nails.
I had FEC-T and it was definitely T that was worst! I am still receiving herceptin which makes for brittle nails so it will be 2014 before I treat myself to a manicure!
Still, it is a small price to pay to win the battle.
Kahren
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Nails during chemo

I have noticed how many of us have been painting our nails black and doing other clever things, and I think I can work out why we have to be careful about our nails splitting or falling off because of the treatment. But the websites I've been looking at don't seem to be very helpful. I really need more of the science bit. Also what has worked for everyone? And is T (as in FEC-T) really the hardest on nails?