MAVALA Nail Care during Cancer Therapy

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Cutaneous side effects of cancer therapy and preventive measures*1 recommended by MAVALA Laboratories

mavala nail care booklet

Among cancer therapies, classical chemotherapy, some targeted therapies or the combination of both can cause undesirable effects on skin, nails and hair, leading to an important impact on the quality of life of patients.

The frequency and severity of these undesirable effects may vary depending on the individual sensitivity of each person, but also depending on the dose and period of drug administered.

MAVALA became interested in nail disorders, seeming to be notably caused by the family of taxanes (docetaxel, paclitaxel). These treatments may cause several types of anomalies, affecting nails of hands as well as toenails and are an obstacle to the everyday well-being of the patient.

Nail Problems

The most common troubles include:

  • Ridged, breaking, splitting, thickened nails
  • Changes of pigmentation: hyperpigmentation, irregular pigmentation, appearance of brown to black stains, blue or orange stains
  • Bacterial or fungal infections appearing between the nail plate and the nail bed, leading to a greenish colouring
  • Leukonychia: white stains on nails
  • Subungual haemorrhages: bleeding under the nails
  • Paronychia or whitlow: inflammatory swelling around the nails, often together with infectious complications

Experience has shown that taking care of your nails and having regular manicures is essential to delay and/or restrict the undesirable effects on the nail. For this, MAVALA recommends to act on three main axes: protect, reinforce and moisturise.

In case of infections or inflammation, an appropriate medical treatment must be prescribed by a doctor (antiseptics, antifungals, antibiotics).

Furthermore, it is recommended to always consult the advice of medical staff (oncologists, nurses, doctors, etc.) before using products.

Protect your nails

MAVALA Laboratories advise you to have a complete manicure (base coat – coloured nail polish – top coat) the day before your medical treatment, and should be renewed as soon as it starts wearing down, and  this, during the whole duration of treatment and still a few weeks afterwards.

  1. A thin layer of protective base coat, that will also improve the adherence of the nail polish and prolong its hold. Choose the following depending on the condition of nails:
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2. Two thin coats of opaque coloured nail polish protect nails from daylight, by also, hide any eventual pigmentation disorders.

Historically, mainly dark shades (brown black, …) were advised in some oncology departments.

A scientific study*2 , led by the pharmacy faculty of Nantes (France), evaluated the photoprotective efficiency of different nail polishes, including several MAVALA shades. It appears that opaque nail polishes applied in two coats are likely to ensure an excellent protection of nails against ultraviolet (UV) radiation, with photoprotection levels sometimes will above what is observed as part of the usual topical photoprotectors (sun creams and milks). If dark shades are particularly effective regarding UV radiation, a very good protection can be obtained with lighter shades, as long as they are well covering.

Glitter nail polishes should be avoided, as they are difficult to be removed with an acetone free nail polish remover. Furthermore, on particularly weak nails, we do not recommend to apply very bright shades (yellow, orange, blue, green) that might stain nails that are already weak.

3. A thin layer of top coat, to be chosen depending on desired result:

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Nail polish remover

When nail polish starts flaking, which is a natural process after a few days, use a gentle acetone free nail polish remover to avoid drying out nails:

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Strengthen your nails

Wearing nail polish already provides a physical protection to nails. However, if your nails become soft, breaking or fragile, MAVALA recommends to strengthen them by applying a fortifying base coat, or an additional physical protection.

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Moisturize and nourish you nails

To counteract the drying effects of therapies, it is also essential to moisturise and nourish nails and their contour. For this, we recommend using the following products:

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All products mentioned are available at the Fountain of Beauty

For more information on this subject you can pick up a MAVALA Nail Care during Cancer Therapy booklet at the Fountain of Beauty

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*1These preventive measures are widely applied and recognised in hospitals, but are not yet scientifically recognised.

*2 C. Couteau, E, Paparis et L. Coiffard, – Comparaison de differents vernis a ongles en matière d’efficacite photoprotectrice. Etude de l’interet de leur recourse en soins de support en oncologie – Bulletin du Cancer, 2016.

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