Big Toe Nail Problems After Chemo

I had my 6th and last R-CHOP chemo session on 16 October 2020. About a month ago I started experiencing pain at the inside upper corner of the nail on my left big toe -- as if I had an ingrown toe nail, but that actually looks normal. This became infected, ejecting pus beside the nail, and when I had a phone conversation with my local GP she recommended an antibiotic, which cleared up the infection within a week. That was about two weeks ago.

Although the toe looks normal to me (skin and nail colour look usual) I still have this point of pain where the corner of the nail attaches under the fleshy skin. Strangely, I began to feel a similar point of pain (but less intense) in my other, right big toe, mirrored in exactly the same position. 

As this seems an unlikely coincidence, and I've never had any problems before with my toes or ingrown toenails, etc. ... it occurred to me this might be related to the chemotherapy.

Can you shed any light?

I'm soaking my feet every day in Dettol first aid antiseptic -- thinking this will keep the toe / cuticle soft and hopefully ward off further infection. Is there anything else I should be doing? Any idea how long it might be before the pain starts to go away? I'm paranoid of it becoming infected again.

Thanks for any help.

  • Hi 

    Thank you for getting in touch and welcome to the online community.

    It’s good to hear you have completed your chemotherapy and are on the road to recovery.

    It’s common during chemotherapy to notices changes in the colour and the growth rate of the nails. With the immune system being lowered due to the chemotherapy you are more vulnerable to developing infections. It’s good the antibiotics cleared the infection and using Dettol will keep the area clean and allow healing. If there are any signs of another infection, don’t hesitate to get advice from the GP.

    If the nail has started growing, you may need to trim the nail especially if it starts to dig in to the skin. Wearing good fitting shoes will also ensure the toe area is cushioned. Here are some tips on managing nail changes.

    If you want to chat this through with one of our nurses then give us a call on the Macmillan Support Line.