- Question from Terri: Should I avoid nail polishes during this time?
- Answers - Mary Gail Mercurio It is okay to polish the nail, but do not use artificial nails. Select a nail polish that you have used in the past that you know you are not sensitive to. To adhere the artificial nails, very potent adhesives are necessary that have chemicals that women have allergic reactions to. I have seen many severe reactions where swelling and significant inflammation occurs and we would want to avoid this type of trauma.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. What if you used artificial nails in the past without any problems? When you are going through treatment are you more likely to have a reaction during the treatment?
- Mary Gail Mercurio If there has not been a problem in the past, it is less likely that an allergic reaction would occur but certainly not impossible. Formulas often change often unbeknownst to the consumer. During chemotherapy is not the time to find out if you are sensitive to a product for the first time.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Mary Gail, some women look for "natural products" believing that they will be more gentle on the skin. Is this true?
- Mary Gail Mercurio No, unfortunately, natural does not always mean safe. Perhaps the best example is poison ivy, which is very natural but it's the last thing we would want to smear all over our skin. So you need to use good judgment. I recommend sticking with well-known brands that have long track records of safety and adherence to ethics.
- Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph. This is also not the time to experiment with a product that just appeared on the Internet. "Natural" is a very overused marketing term. Professional marketing firms know that Americans trust the word "natural" and will pay up to one-third more and try it over a well-known brand. Don't be misguided.
- Mary Gail Mercurio If you are unsure of the appropriateness of a product you would like to use, consult your physician, who is probably familiar with what is best. Keep in mind that your skin and nails are an important protective barrier against insult and you should do all that you can to maintain this important function.
- Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph. The resiliency of skin, hair, nails is one of the beauties of human life. Although traumatic, the changes that occur with the treatment of breast cancer do not last a lifetime. Do what you can to look good. When you look good, you feel good about yourself.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called No Hair, New Hair, Skin Care featured Mary Gail Mercurio, M.D., Ronda Gates, M.S., R.Ph., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions on the physical side effects of breast cancer treatment, and what you can do about them.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in August 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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