How to Manage Cancer Treatment’s Effect on Fingernails

Chemotherapy often makes people think of hair loss, but it can do a number on fingernails, too. Some breast cancer patients find themselves with brittle, discolored nails, nails that lift from their fingers, or nails with small lines or indentations during treatment.

Until you’re feeling better, these tips will help you keep your hands and feet looking their best.

Wear gloves
First things first: wear gloves. Your tootsies are usually protected with socks, slippers, even shoes. But your hands get full exposure and have so many chores to do. Protect your delicate fingernails by wearing gloves. It’s especially important if you’re having lymph nodes removed as part of your breast cancer treatment. Who knows? Maybe those sweet white gloves your grandmother wore will make a comeback.

Be gentle
Use organic soaps and moisturizers to keep your hands clean and hydrated. Instead of clipping cuticles, try rubbing them gently with moisturizing gels.

Keep it short
Not only are shorter nails are more forgiving to look at if they’re showing wear and tear, but they’re also easier to keep clean.

MORE: Six free things you can do right now to make breast cancer an easier experience

Go natural
You — or a salon professional — can buff your nails to a beautiful shine without polish. If you do go to a salon, consider bringing your own super clean supplies to prevent the spread of germs. And if you insist on polish, look for non-toxic water based products. You’ll be astounded at how many are available. And use removers that don’t contain harsh solvents too.

Sorry, ladies — cancer treatment is not a great time for fake nails. You don’t want anything that might trap germs or cause an infection, so if that’s a look you really want to go with, have a conversation with your doctor first.

Don’t Bite
In fact, don’t even nibble. If you’re in the habit of biting your nails, make an effort to kick it. If nothing else works, refer to item number one on this list.

And…if your nails are seriously dry, bleeding, painful, falling off, or cause you concerned for other reasons, be sure to alert your oncologist.

MORE: Three tea recipes for breast cancer patients 

Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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