We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Medical News Today only shows you brands and products that we stand behind.

Our team thoroughly researches and evaluates the recommendations we make on our site. To establish that the product manufacturers addressed safety and efficacy standards, we:
  • Evaluate ingredients and composition: Do they have the potential to cause harm?
  • Fact-check all health claims: Do they align with the current body of scientific evidence?
  • Assess the brand: Does it operate with integrity and adhere to industry best practices?
We do the research so you can find trusted products for your health and wellness.
Was this helpful?

Chemotherapy can cause several side effects, as it damages healthy cells, which can lead to weak and discolored nails. Tea tree oil could help reduce these side effects in people undergoing chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a treatment for many forms of cancer. These drugs travel through the body and can kill cancer cells. However, they can also damage healthy cells and cause side effects, including making the nails weak and discolored.

This article looks at how tea tree oil can help nails during chemotherapy.

Quick links

Tea tree oil is an essential oil. It is useful in the treatment of various conditions, including skin problems and inflammation.

The authors of a 2017 study asked participants with a nail fungal infection to apply tea tree oil to the affected area for 6 months. They concluded that the tea tree oil significantly reduced symptoms in the majority of participants.

Tea tree oil contains various compounds, one of which is terpinen-4-ol, which kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This is why the substance may be a useful nail treatment following chemotherapy.

However, there are no specific studies into the effectiveness or safety of tea tree oil as a nail treatment in people undergoing chemotherapy.

A 2019 study found that nail changes occur in 92 out of 129 patients undergoing chemotherapy. They note that the most common changes were color changes of the nail plate and rough and brittle nails.

The American Cancer Society says chemotherapy may cause nail problems that include:

  • overpigmented nails
  • hemorrhages
  • inflammation
  • lifting of the nails
  • nail loss
  • ridges
  • lines
  • creases
  • discoloration

Some of these nail changes may require treatment from a doctor. Therefore, a person undergoing chemotherapy should let their healthcare team know if they notice changes in their nails.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Products are available for a wide range of budgets and in different size options.
  • Ingredients: Products list all ingredients clearly, while manufacturers outline their manufacturing processes.
  • Safety: Products contain ingredients that are safe for topical use, oral ingestion, or inhalation.
  • Reputable: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.
Was this helpful?

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Dr. Organic Tea Tree Antifungal Nail Solution

In addition to tea tree oil, this product comes already diluted and contains:

The company claims this solution is fast absorbing. Dr. Organic recommends applying a thin layer twice a day for 2–3 weeks until the nails recover.

This product should restore and regenerate both finger and toenails. It is vegan-friendly and uses all-natural ingredients. It contains an applicator brush, but a person should not apply it to chapped or irritated skin.

It is available for $14.98.

Daily Remedy Tea Tree Oil Foot Soak with Epsom Salt

This product is specifically for the treatment of toenails and the feet. It can soften feet and nails and help treat nail fungus. It also deodorizes and soothes aching feet.

A person can apply this to warm water and soak their feet in the mixture. In addition to tea tree oil, it contains:

The company claims this product uses natural, organic, and hypoallergenic ingredients. It is available for $17.97.

NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil

This tea tree oil is not specifically for nails. The oil comes in a pure form that someone needs to dilute with a carrier oil — they cannot apply it directly to the skin.

It is available in four sizes: 1 fluid ounce (fl. oz), 2 fl. oz, 4 fl. oz, and 16 fl. oz. The larger-sized bottle does not include a dropper.

NOW claims it tests its essential oils for purity to ensure high quality and only sells cruelty-free products.

The products cost between $8.99 and $74.99, depending on their size.

Jason Tea Tree Nail Saver

This product can rehydrate cuticles and brittle nails. The company claims it strengthens the nails and reduces the chance of breakage.

It is available in a 15-milliliter bottle. A person can gently massage the product into their cuticles.

In addition to tea tree oil, this diluted product contains:

Many of these ingredients are certified organic. This product is also a cruelty-free and vegan-friendly oil, which contains no artificial colors, parabens, or sulfates.

The product is available on Amazon for $12.63.

First Botany 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil

This product is available in a bottle containing 1 fl. oz of essential oil, which is unfiltered and undiluted.

The company claims this product has no artificial ingredients. It is nontoxic and contains no additives, fillers, or preservatives.

The product may be particularly helpful in fighting nail fungus — a person can apply it after mixing it with a carrier oil. The company also claims that it is useful for fighting acne, dandruff, and cold sores.

It is available for $14.95.

Essential oils for nails are usually safe with few side effects. However, if a person experiences skin irritation or any other adverse reactions, they should rinse the oil off and avoid using the product again.

An individual usually needs to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil. People should also never ingest them or apply them to irritated areas, split skin, open wounds, or cuts. They should also keep essential oils away from children and animals.

Some of the products above are already diluted and are suitable for immediate use.

A few alternative ways a person can look after their nails during chemotherapy include:

  • Trimming the nails: Short nails are less likely to break.
  • Cleaning the nails: Keeping the nails clean means they are less likely to develop infections.
  • Avoiding manicures: A person should keep their nails natural during chemotherapy.
  • Avoiding pressure: Wearing loose-fitting shoes and minimizing pressure on the finger or toenail beds can protect them from damage.
  • Using cold packs: Placing cold packs on the nails before and after treatment may help protect them.
  • Applying creams: Applying hand and foot creams may help with moisturizing and nail strengthening.
  • Using cuticle cream: A person can use a cuticle cream or oil to prevent dryness and splitting.
  • Filing the nails: A person should file their nails with an emery board in one direction to prevent nail splitting.

Tea tree oil products may be useful for protecting the nails during chemotherapy. This can help with reducing infections, strengthening the nails, and preventing nail splitting, discoloration, and breakages.

There are many different products available containing tea tree oil. However, individuals need to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin or nails.

There are also many other ways to look after the nails during chemotherapy to avoid further problems. These include wearing comfortable shoes and keeping the nails short and clean.