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Skin and Nails


Skin-related side effects from cancer treatment include:

  • Dry skin
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Skin lesions

Tell your doctor about any changes to your skin. Your doctor can recommend or prescribe appropriate treatment, including topical solutions (creams, lotions or gels) to soothe your skin or relieve itching.

Tell you doctor immediately if you notice:

  • Sudden or severe itching, rash and/or hives. These may be signs or an allergic reaction. 
  • Red, swollen or tender skin and/or discharge from skin, especially around a wound, sore, rash or IV catheter site. These may be signs of infection. 

Care for your skin in these ways:

  • Keep skin moisturized by using a gentle, unscented lotion.
  • Avoid activities that put you at risk for cuts, injuries or burns.
  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply every two hours. 


Chemotherapy can affect the color and texture of your fingernails and toenails:

  • Nails may darken, crack or become brittle.
  • White ridges or bands of discoloration may appear along the nails.
  • Nail beds may darken.
  • A small percentage of patients lose all or part of their fingernails and toenails.

Except in rare cases, nails will grow back or return to normal after chemotherapy ends.

Tell your doctor about any changes to your nails, especially pain, redness, discoloration, odor or discharge from under the nail. These could be signs of infection. 

Keep your fingernails and toenails clean, dry and relatively short.


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