A group of researchers in the United Kingdom evaluated the effectiveness of a natural nail balm in preventing or mitigating nail damage, which is a common adverse effect of taxane chemotherapy. They investigated whether a topical nail bed balm containing bioactive, polyphenolic-rich, African salvia officinalis and gaultheria procumbens in a natural base of olea europaea, butyrospermun parkii, cera alba, and theobroma cacao protected the nail beds. This natural nail balm has reported anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties.
Sixty patients (23 male, 37 female) were randomized to apply the natural balm or a scented petroleum balm (placebo control) to the nailbeds 3 times a day during treatment. There were no differences among patient demographics, and type and number of chemotherapy cycles between the 2 groups (all patients received taxanes). At baseline and at the end of chemotherapy treatment, both patients and physicians measured nail health outcomes. Patients completed a Dermatology Life Quality questionnaire and a linear severity scale, and physicians completed a Nail Psoriasis Index (NPSI) and a linear severity scale based on clinical examination and photographs.
The polyphenolics-rich essential oils and plant-based waxes in the natural nail bed balm significantly reduced chemotherapy-related nail damage and improved nail-related quality of life compared with the plain petroleum-based balm. The researchers recommend additional research, including studying the effect of combining the natural nail bed balm with nail bed cooling. Study findings were presented during a poster session at the 2017 ASCO Annual Meeting and are available here.