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Nail Changes From Treatment And How To Deal With Them


With chemo or radiation therapy, your nails may become discolored, brittle or cracked. They also may develop vertical grooves or bands and growth may be stunted.

To take care of your nails during treatment consider the following:

  • Clip nails short 
  • Moisturize your hands and nails.
  • Soak your nails in warm olive oil for ten minutes, once a week.
  • Cuticles should be pushed back, never clipped. This helps avoid cuts and lessens the chance of infection. (For other tips about avoiding infection, click here).
  • Avoid acrylic or other artificial nail wraps. They can promote infection by trapping bacteria between your own nails and the wrap.
  • Nail polish can hide nail discoloration by using opaque or light colored nail polish. To avoid further drying and cracking, use only use non-acetate nail polish and polish remover.
  • Protect your nails by wearing gloves when doing household chores such as washing dishes or using harsh cleansers, and when gardening.
  • Use caution when considering products that can strengthen your nails. These products can be irritating to some people.  This may not be the best time to experiment. Speak with your doctor before using any new product.
  • Alert your doctor if you have redness, pain, or changes around your cuticles.

It has been reported that the following can help counteract the effect of chemotherapy on your nails:

  • Soak your nails in warm olive oil for ten minutes, once a week.
  • Use hand creams regularly.

Be sure to let your doctor know if you have redness, pain, or changes around your cuticles or any other skin problems that you are worried about.

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