Everyday Nail Care Tips During Chemotherapy

Anyone undergoing chemotherapy can tell you this therapy is harsh. Have you noticed your skin and nails are more discolored, brittle, and susceptible to breaking?

Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells of cancerous tumors. Unfortunately, rapidly dividing cells are also crucial to hair and nail growth, and chemotherapy treatment is unable to distinguish between these ‘good’ cells and the cancerous ones.

It’s not uncommon for those going through chemotherapy to notice a line in the nail (related to the chemo cycle), pigmentation, or even have a nail lift from the nail bed. These problems are all reversible, but you’ll need to practice excellent hygiene in order to avoid bacterial infection.

There is good news. Though they may last longer than the duration of your treatment, these side affects are temporary. In the mean time, you can start to minimize the appearance of dry skin and prevent infection even before you start your chemotherapy treatment by treating your nails to some TLC with these daily nail care tips:

First and foremost, protect your hands – wear rubber gloves while you’re doing household chores, such as washing dishes or using cleaning products. Excessive exposure to water can lead to fungal infections in the nail bed.

The area around your nail bed can become dry, and your cuticles may fray. Don’t rip or peel the loose cuticle! Carefully cut it with a clean pair of nail scissors. A daily massage with cuticle cream will help prevent dryness, splitting, and hangnails.

When you feel like treating yourself to a manicure, keep these tips in mind:

Although above we recommend you cut a hangnail, don’t cut your cuticles. Use remover cream or gel, and push your nails back gently.

Don’t file streaks, stains or brown spots! Though they may last for several months, they are temporary and will go away on their own.

Opt for a non-acetone-based or oily removers to get rid of old polish – it’s less drying than acetone remover.

Steer clear of hand creams with alpha hydroxy or beta hydroxy acids.

While some recommend going polish-free for the duration of your treatment because of the harsh chemicals in most brands, there are several brands of formaldehyde-free or water based lacquers that you might like to try. Choose a lighter shade and follow with a top-coat to extend length of wear.

Going for a professional manicure? Bring your own instruments, regardless of how the salon cleans theirs.

Avoid acrylic nails or wraps. Spaces under false nails can harbour bacteria that can cause infection.