Icing Hands and Feet During Paclitaxel, Taxol, and Docetaxel, Taxotere Chemotherapy

I receive a lot of inquiries about Taxol (Paclitaxel) and Taxotere (Docetaxel), and icing your hands and feet during Chemo infusions, so I wanted to provide  more information.     Taxane drugs (Taxol and Taxotere) can cause neuropathy which is numbness of hands/fingers and feet/toes and extreme discolorations of your nails or loss of nails.

My Chemo Nurse said fingers and toes have twice the circulation as other places in your body, so by icing them, it constricts the blood vessels and prevents the Chemo from infiltrating those areas. 

I would highly recommend you ask your Oncologist about thisMake sure you have their permission.  Your Oncologist may look at you questionably, but get them to say okay!  Mine gave me the go ahead.  In fact, it worked so well for me, they are now recommending it for others.  One more added bonus, you get so sleepy from the drugs pre-chemo.  The ice wakes you right up!

Mary, a friend of mine, is 10 years out from Taxol treatment.  Both of her feet are numb and this will never go away.  She suffers greatly because of this on a daily basis.  If you can prevent neuropathy, it is worth the sacrifices. On my first attempt at doing this in the Chemo room, a young gal next to me  was Stage 4 Breast Cancer had iced on several chemo regimes.  She attested to me that it worked for her, so that gave me encouragement I needed to continue.

Please check out my store www.hellocourage.com and cute chemo hats.  I learned what was needed in the bald phase of my life.  Click on a hat  below.  I look high and low and have the best chemo caps designed for comfort and style.

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I am now 11 months since my last Taxol infusion.

1)  I have no neuropathy in either hand or any fingers.

2)  I had no nail discoloration or nail loss on either hand.

3)  My left foot had no nail discoloration or no neuropathy.

4)  My right foot has numbness on the upper tips of all 5 toes and I had one toenail discolored, but no nail loss.  I pulled my right foot out of the ice too often.

Here is what I did:

1)  I took two small dish pans to infusion purchased at a Dollar Store for $1.00 each.  Some people take frozen peas or baggies of ice.  The dish pans worked better for me.

2) Before the Chemo Nurse began the Taxol, I had her fill up the dish pans with ice.  I only used the ice during the Taxol infusion, not with the preliminary drugs.

3) I kept my socks on (brought an extra pair for after Chemo) and had the nurse give me a washcloth to put over the ice for my hands. (thin gloves would have worked as well)

4)  I soaked my hands and feet in the icy dish pans as long as I could tolerate it, then I would pull my hands and feet out of the ice for short breaks.   The nurse got me two towels to dry off when I was through.  I did it for the entire Taxol portion of the infusion.

With the annoyance the little bit of neuropathy causes me daily, I am so thankful I took the time to do this to prevent debilitating neuropathy.

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29 comments

  1. Hi, Denise. This is a great tip. I took Taxol, did not have the benefit of such great advice at the time, and do have periods of numbness in my hands. The fingernails on both hands got strange but did not fall off. You are always a source of helpful insights. Thanks!

  2. Hi Denise, I did ice my hands during Taxol as well. The nurses now recommend this to other women; with their Oncologist’s approval. I didn’t ice my feet and I do have neurapathy in my toes. I have been getting reflexology and it is helping! Finished Taxol at end of March.

    • Hi Cathy, so glad you are finished with Taxol! Glad you iced your hands and
      that nurses recommending it to others! Great information about reflexology and
      neuropathy! I am going to have to check it out because these numb toes are annoying!
      I appreciate your input so much! Keep healing! Denise

  3. Hello Denise,
    your page and hints are wonderful-wish i had found sooner. My daughter doing the Cytoxin today. This is her 7th year from Breast cancer that went to the bones and is now liver staged. She will do 6 hours every week. If this doesn’t work we are looking at an ending. I am happy for you making your progress.
    Carol

    • Hi Carol, I am so very sorry your daughter is going through all she
      has been through for 7 years. Praying they can find more miracles
      for her and for you!! Sending a hug your way…Denise

  4. Today was my 6th week of taxol/herceptin. I’d just read your post on icing my hands and feet late last night. Didn’t have time to pull anything together. So today I asked for 4 rubber gloves and my husband filled them with ice. I tied them off and put two at my feet, pushing my socked feet against them against the footboard of the bed. I wrapped the other two in papee towels and held them in my hands. I lasted the whole hour. The huge thing that happened was that I didn’t have the crazy restless legs that I always get. Hmmm…

  5. Denise, I was happy to see your information. I start my Taxol treatments this coming Wednesday and am very concerned as I am a professional pianist and teacher. I am considering the ice therapy as well as glutamine. Any additional suggestions?

    • Hi Janine – oh best of luck to you with Taxol. I’ve had other readers who were pianists
      who iced. It really, really works. You don’t want to get frost bite so pull them out
      to keep from that, but it is worth the effort! I did not take glutamine, but others I know
      did and said it really helped! If you did AC, Taxol will feel better. My best to you! Denise

  6. It has now been 3 months since I finished my 12 rounds of Taxol. Starting at week 6, when I first read your blog about icing, I held bags of ice in my hands and put them in my shoes, too. My hands came out completely unscathed. The bottoms of my feet sometimes get numb but never hurt. I still take l-glutamine. I stopped for a while and it seemed that the numbness got worse. I am a pianist/organist/music teacher. I’m so glad it didn’t affect my hands. I still have 6 months of Herceptin left. I don’t ice any more but I’m continuing the l-glutamine.

  7. Hello Denise!
    I started Taxol (post DD AC) today and am ‘icing’. I ordered some overpriced gloves and booties for that purpose ( I am sure I am paying for convenience!) but did some homemade ice kits for today. The Onc. Nurse in my infusion suite had never heard of this treatment, so I will bring her some study information I found.
    BTW, I blog on here too about my BC….jbokland.wordpress.com

    Good to find your site!
    Jeanette

    • Hi – oh good luck with the icing! I am SO GLAD I did it. You will be too.
      My hospital chemo nurses had heard of it but didn’t implement it very much.
      They do now! It works! You could see where the chemo pooled in my hands
      right before the fingers where it was stopped.
      Good luck with your blog as well. I will check it out! You can get this done
      and over with!!!! Denise

  8. Thank you for sharing your experience and infomation concerning your ordeal. I was diagnose with stage 3 edmedriol cancer and the scripture . Is true of saying God strenght is made perfect in our weakness. Iv’e had some simular system like the burning and itching in my hands and feet. You are so right when say, very annoying. It can depress you if you let it. I found myself becoming angry, then I caught myself and said, this not going to get the best of me. I pray a lot because I believe in the power of prayer. I also read up on the things that you spoke of far as circling. O didn’t put my foot on ice, but place them on top of a ice pack. It did kind of cum down. It can be so so so annoying. I had to go through 6 infusion. Now I have two 2 go. Im so glad because I want it to be over….. But over all God truly has build me, cause people tell me how strong I am, but inside I dont want anymore chemo. I know I must continue to persevere and I plan on doing that. He hasn’t brought this far to leave me now. I have my days I cry and want to say no more, no more, but I must travail. Thank you for comfort, and sharing ur struggles. Continue to stand and know you are beautiful and stay incurable. From a sister to sister with luv.. oh love ur hat and can’t wait to style in them. Thk you.

    • Hi Yolanda, thanks so much for posting your inspirational comments on my blog!
      Your comments are meaningful because we anyone going through chemo at some time
      or another feels like quitting. I am so glad God gave you the strength to keep
      going! You are almost through!! Sending a prayer your way! My best!!

  9. Hi again! I wrote you earlier in my chemo tx of taxol. I have finished my 7th tx. I have 5 more. Each wk I put my hands and feet on icepacks and so far so good. My nurses didnt hear of doing this…but plan to share w other patients. Thank you very much!

  10. Hello, I have a question I’m a little confuse, am I suppose to ice just finger and toes, or the whole foot and hands. I’m starting taxol this coming Tuesday.
    Thank you,
    Monica 🙂

    • Hi Monica, both my sister and I did our whole hands and feet. We pulled them out quite frequently,
      but neither one of us lost our fingernails or toenails. We both have MINOR neuropathy, but it is much
      less than some people. SENDING MY BEST!! Taxol is so much better for most people. Hope that is true for you!

  11. Thnk you very much for your detailed suggestions on icing your hands and feet. I’ve looked for specific instructions on this and so far your blog is the most informative.

      • Appreciate all the information shared here! Is there any concern with using ice on the feet with respect to medicine circulating properly? Dr mentioned something and with all nerves going to feet I do also wonder about this aspect.

      • I would ALWAYS recommend asking your Oncologist about it. My sister and I both did and they gave us the go ahead.
        It prevented loss of nails in both of us in hands and feet. We both have mild neuropathy, but it is mild. So we
        will never know if it would have been severe neuropathy if we would not have iced! Sending all the best! Denise

  12. Hi Denise,

    Thank you for your info on icing. I’ve scoured several BC sites and your info has been the most helpful. I am doing 6 cycles of Taxotere® + Carboplatin + Herceptin® + Perjeta®, for Triple +++ BC. After my 1st round, i have had mild, intermittent numbness in my toes and am interested in icing my hands and feet for my next cycle. My question is what part of the foot should be iced? Is it the whole foot, or just the bottom or top? I know you iced your whole foot so I was just curious if I decided to use ice packs instead. Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!
    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie, so sorry you have to go through all of this – I also was Triple +++.
      I had the numbness right away as well, so that is why I started to ice.
      Yes, I iced my whole foot. I pulled my right foot out of ice more than left foot
      and I have some minor permanent neuropathy in my right toes.
      My sister iced just her toes – her toes are okay, but she has some permanent neuropathy
      in the ball of her feet.
      Oncologists will tell you it is not proven that it works, but in our experience it did!
      And it made me feel better to have some control over something!!
      I think you could use ice packs on the bottom of your feet, but I have no experience with it!!
      Sending all my best – you can get through this! I am now FIVE YEARS out!! You will be too!!!
      Denise

  13. Denise,
    Thank you for your encouragement. I’ve have such a feeling a dread for tomorrow but I feel knowing there are others out there giving this kind of info and support. You rock!

    I’m going to try the icing tomorrow. Question: you just iced during the Taxo infusion and not the others? I know nurses will prolly look at me funny, but I don’t care. Right now I only have mild neropathy, mostly on my right foot. Nothing really in the hands. Before all this builds up in my system, I want to try it .

    Thanks again for your site and your encouragement. God Bless!

    • Yes, both my sister and I just did it the minute the Taxol (or Taxotere) started. No need during the pre-drugs. OH I remember the dread of it all so well. That part never goes away. You can always recall those feelings, but it DOES GET BETTER! You will get through this. And I believe you are smart to try the icing!!

  14. Hi Denise,

    I’m going to begin my 4th round of chemo tomorrow. I asked for the ice on the 2nd and 3rd rounds and it really works on neuropathy. I usually get a little in my feet, but it goes away. Unfortunately after my 3rd round I didn’t do the best job icing my fingers (used an ice block that probably wasn’t cold enough) and they have been numb for 3 weeks! Ugh. And have not gotten better at all. I’m worried it will be permanent. I’m going to do a better job this cycle. Hopefully it will get better because my other side effects have been awful!

    I switched insurance to go to UCLA and feel like I have a better team. My new oncologist was very familiar with icing so that is encouraging!

    Stephanie

    • Hi Stephanie – glad you have a good team at UCLA. I’ve heard from many women going there, and they all have nothing but good things to say! Oh yes, it is easy to get just a touch lazy in the icing department!! I understand! Hopefully, the numbness will go away. It usually gets better. So sorry you are having so many side effects. It is all awful.

      All my best, Denise

  15. When you say the Chemo pooled back from your fingers (hand) and toes (foot) did you just wait that out to go back down or did anyone massage their hands and feet after treatment.

    Haven’t started Taxol yet but getting as much information as possible.

    Auburn

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