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  • Writer's pictureLauren Nicole

Chemo toenails

Feet being pampered in a bowl of water

Changes to toenails after chemotherapy treatment are surprisingly common, but because we can cover our toenails up with socks and shoes, many people just grin and bear it. But toenails grow more slowly than fingernails and can take a year or more to regrow if you lose a full nail. So we're extremely grateful to our Lauren Nicole, author of the blog Finding Beauty During Breast Cancer for sharing her tips for covering up lost toenails following her own chemotherapy treatment.


I was very fortunate not to have any problems with my fingernails during or after chemotherapy. My toenails were not so lucky. Towards the end of my chemo treatments, both of my big toenails became very sore and darkened in colour. My oncologist assured me this was normal and warned that the nails may begin to pull back and eventually fall off. After a couple of weeks, the soreness subsided. It wasn't until 2.5 months after my last treatment that the first nail fell off. Below is a picture of my toe the day the nail fell off. It was not painful, because a new nail had already begun to grow under the dead nail.

Post chemotherapy toenail which has fallen off

The big toe-nail on the other foot fell off a few weeks later. The picture below shows my toenails 5 months after my last chemo treatment. While some of the smaller nails were still discoloured, only the big toenails on each foot fell off.

Post chemotherapy toe nails

With summer approaching, I decided to try using fake toenails. I found these glue-on toenails, which came with 4 sets of nails in a large variety of sizes. (Lauren is based in the USA so the linked products are from America. Alternatively, you can purchase false toenails from CancerPal in the UK here.)

I only applied the glue to my new toenails. I did not apply it to my skin or to the entire fake nail. The fake nails stayed on anywhere from 2 to 14 days. As my natural nails grew longer, the fake nails tended to stay on longer. The picture below shows the fake nails applied to my big toenails and all toenails painted. This picture was taken the same day as the above picture (5 months after my last chemo treatment).

Post chemotherapy toenails with false toenails and a pink pedicure

I continued to wear these fake toenails for around 5 months, using two packages of the Kiss Products Full-Cover Toenails. At that point I felt that my natural nails were long enough to paint without the fake nails. The picture below shows my natural nails, around 9 months after my last chemo treatment.

Post chemotherapy toenails with a pink pedicure.


You can find more beauty blogs from Lauren via her Finding Beauty During Breast Cancer blog or via Twitter: @beautyduringbc, Facebook: @findingbeautyduringbreastcancer or Instagram: @findingbeautyduringbc


If you're looking for products to help care for your nails during chemotherapy treatment, we sell a range of products to help you care for your nails, hand and feet including many of the products that Catherine mentions, in the CancerPal MarketPlace.

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