Finger & Toe Nails

edited December 2019 in Welcome & Orientation

Hello. I've been having Chemo treatment (Taxol & Carboplatin) which has been stopped 2 weeks early because of the impact it's having on my finger & toe nails. Tingling in the fingers & feet has been controlled by Erica tablets, but not before the nails started to become sore. Mainly in the fingers, especially the middle ones, the nails have lifted away from the nail bed, pointing up wards, with up to about 3mm from normal. They are painful if knocked and it's difficult to use my hands - like dry myself! One nail is looking like it will lift away completely. So my questions are: has any one else experienced this? and, how did you cope, as I expect it will take months for the nails to grow out? I have not been able to find elsewhere, any info on this particular subject. Hope someone can help. Thanks.


  • Hi Nightowl,

    I have never heard of this happening.  I did have a bit of neurotoxicity but my oncologist reduced my dose before it got too bad.  Does applying pressure to your nails help?  I did hear from a beautician friend about a client of hers who was having chemo.  Before each treatment she would have black shellac polish on her nails and she said it helped with side effects.  Maybe she was having problems with her nails.  Since my last chemo my nails have peeled and flaked so I keep them painted with gel or shellac polish to keep them together.

    I hope this has given you some ideas.  Maybe talk to your oncologist or even the chemo nurses, they are a wealth of practical knowledge.


  • Hello Nikki, Thanks for your reply. I have been confused with several articles on the internet about whether to paint or not paint nails and to use a polish that is not alcohol? based. I guess for those whose nail split and flake, I suppose the polish will hold them together as you said. Mine have lifted off the nail bed because of some "crusty" hard substance pushing up between the nail and the nail bed. Yesterday my podiatrist said the crusty bits are formed from the stuff that the nails are made from. As the nail(s) lift up so the excess crusty bits begin to fall away leaving me to look down the gap between the nail and the nail bed. My nails are still intact - ie  not split or flakey.  I have now cut the finger nails quite short and have found that wearing cotton gloves help protect the nails from being caught up and possibly pulled off. And latex type gloves over the top allows me to do "wet" jobs.

    As two of the fingernails now have some green underneath I went to the GP and he was quite helpful. I can't have any antibiotics yet as they don't know how my system will cope with that treatment. I have to have some tests first.  I think now I have to resign myself to the fact that this is going to be a problem for me until the new nails grow out, which will take about 6 -18 months. (Toenails take a long time). I will be seeing the Oncologist tomorrow (Friday 12th). Thanks again for your reply. Best wishes.

  • Hi Nightowl,

    I am thankful that I didn't have any tingling in my toes and fingers when I had chemo 4 years ago and I thought that was a very good idea of yours to cover your hands with the cotton gloves.  I am sure the oncologist will have some options to help you.  Goodluck with your treatment.  Helen

  • Hello Helen, Thank you for you reply. I hope after 4 years you are now OK.

  • Hi Nightowl

    Please share what you learn about this side effect. Wishing you well with your oncologist visit.

    Best wishes Rachel

  • Hello Rachel. My original posting says a bit about my issue, and having "chemo" brain I put the incorrect tablet name in. It should be Lyrica tablets. Since that post 4 Jan, my 2 chemo drugs have stopped and I am now continuing on with Avastin on a 3-weekly basis. Stopping the chemo drugs has meant that I now have better feelings back in my finger tips. But the debilitating side effect of the nail problem continues to worsen - I guess it takes a while for the chemo drugs to subside and be non effective. I did find a UK site that showed pics of the side effects and that gave me confidence that I'm not the only one.

    When the Oncologist saw the state of my nails she  was pleased that she stopped the chemo. And she also said that the "green" was just part of the changes the chemo drugs do - and nothing to be concerned about. So I now continue to wear cotton gloves (found at the local chemist) and wear them when doing work with or without latex gloves over the top. I have bought bigger size cotton gloves since they shrink when washed. But I don't wear the latex gloves for longer than necessary at they start to make the hands sweat. I also wear the cotton gloves when going out as no one would want the shock of seeing my nails.

    I have difficulty in opening jars, zip lock bags, cans/tinned food etc but have found other ways to cope with that; too numerous to describe here. Tongs do help in some ways and if there's a constant problem with an item I can, in some cases, decant the contents to something I can manage. I have also made some little "bags" to go over my fingers which I wear at night - just in case any nails get caught up in the bedding; I'd hate to have a nail pull off in the night. I found that gloves were too hot to wear at night. Any pressure on the fingers tips hurt, I guess because of the nails pulling away from the nail bed. It's the same for toe nails.

    My toenails have been cut short especially the big toes. I haven't worn shoes yet as I can't have any pressure on the big toes. I can wear my husbands socks (they're bigger!) around the house if I need to keep my feet warm.

    I hope this helps, Rachel. Best wishes and thank you for your interest.


  • Hi Nightowl,

    Thanks for your response to my reply.  Yes, it has been four years since I was diagnosed and after two recurrences, one in 2014 and one in 2016, I am good now.  I am very fortunate to be on a trial for a drug call olaparib and it is keeping the cancer at bay.  I have the BRCA2 gene fault and even though it is not good to have the gene fault, it does give you different treatment options.  If you have any family history of breast or ovarian cancer it is a good idea to have the genetic test done. I really admire you for all your strategies that you are doing to help with your nail issue.  Keep positive and take care.  Helen

  • Hi Nightowl, my toes & fingers started to go numb with tingling sensations after 9 weeks of Taxol so my Oncologist stopped the Taxol and I was only given the Carboplatin, it is called peripheral neuropathy and with time you can get the sensation back into your hands &  feet. Your nails will grown back some of my toe nails are still a bit wonky. I've been cancer free now for 3 years and I still have trouble with pressing buttons etc with my fingers as I don't press hard enough, but the numbness. Has gone. They are conducting studies into chemo and peripheral neuropathy ask your oncologist if they are aware of this study as it's better when you are having the effects whilst on chemo. I wish you well, stay positive


  • Hi Nightowl,

    i finished Chemo around 8 months ago now. My nails on my fingers and toes were also affected. They became quite back in parts only in my last few weeks of Chemo. Most of fingernails were affected and some of my toenails. Like you, I had to be careful using my hands. They remained sore and very tender for several weeks after the end of my Chemo. The blackness in my nails took about 5 months to grow out, I always keep them short.

    I still have tingling in my feet and numbness in my hands and feet, if anything this seems worse than during Chemo.... but I remain hopeful that it will improve. All the best with your continuing treatment. X

  • Hello Chris H, Thank you for you input regarding my nails (fingers & toes). I suspect that it could have gone too far with the Taxol as my fingers and 2-4 toes are affected in as much that the nail(s) is being pushed upwards away from the nail bed. The stuff that's doing the pushing is, I'm told, keratin (the same stuff that makes the nails). So the nail is then at an angle from the cuticle end, upwards at the tip. And of course the nail itself is reddish and white and there's 2 nails that have green bits which the oncologist has said is reaction to the chemo drugs. I take it that you didn't have quite the same effect - is that the case? Even so, I'm so pleased to hear you have been cancer free for so long. Thank you for the information about your experience with taxol and nails. I have not found too much information about what I'm experiencing. And I do understand that it's going to take many months for the nails to come good. All the best to you.

  • Hello Megan. Thanks for your input regarding my fingers/toe nails problem. I take it you didn't have the lifting of the nail away from the nailbed? As regards the tingling, I'm still taking Lyrica tablets which. I'm told, masked the tingling; and eventually I will be weaned off them. I'm pleased that at present I now have feeling in my fingers at the tip end, but as mentioned in previous posts, I do have trouble holding on to things - opening jars, tins, pushing buttons etc. It won't be until I'm off the Lyrica that I'll know how well all this treatment as faired. I wish you all the best. Regards Nightowl.

  • Hi,

    Flaky nails can be a side affect of chemo for some people. Your whole nail lifting is not a side effect. I would check this out further with your GP. Green under the nails. Is a fungal infection and needs to be treated. You can buy treatment over the counter at the chemist.

    Hope this helps.


  • Hello Jules. Thank you for your input. My GP has now confirmed that the green is not fungal and so the oncologist was right - that is a reaction to the chemo drugs. And time will correct this.

    I have also had results from a blood test showing that the marker results are now in the "normal" range for everyone - that is, there is currently no sign of cancer. It is such a relief and I can now work towards just getting over the side effects and getting better. Thank you to all who have contributed to my "nail problem".


  • Hi Nightowl,  That is really great news that your marker is down in the normal range.  What a relief for you, keep working on improving your nails and stay positive.  Take care.  Helen

  • Hello Nightowl and all others - I had 5 rounds of taxol/paxol and 5 rounds of lipodox and carboplatin - i had very bad neuropathy treated with vitamin b12 4x a day - still taking it.  my nails are now growing like crazy - more than ever in my life - i do have black lines in my thumb (right), index (left and right).  i get up and jump up and down to stimulate my 62,500 miles of arteries nerves and blood vessels (our blood highway) if it gets too bad, put my feet up on the wall and shake my hands vigrously.  xo sandra (healthy now)

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