Radiation therapy skin care
Radiation therapy can have painful side effects on the skin. We share tips to help you take care of your skin during & after treatment.
The right skin care during radiation therapy can:
- Reduce side effects on your skin.
- Help your skin feel more comfortable during treatment.
- Allow your skin to recover more quickly after treatment.
Here’s how dermatologists recommend that you care for your skin before and after radiation therapy.
During radiation therapy: Be gentle and protect your skin
You want to start doing the following on the day you begin radiation therapy and continue until you’ve stopped radiation and your skin feels normal.
Bathing and shaving:
Skin can become very sensitive during radiation therapy. You can reduce the risk of side effects by following these tips:
- Wash the treated skin gently every day with warm water.Washing helps remove bacteria from your skin, which can cause an infection. Be very gentle when washing your skin in the area that’s receiving radiation therapy. You can easily irritate it, which can cause side effects on your skin. To avoid irritating your skin, skip the washcloths, sponges, and loofahs. Instead, use your hands to gently splash water on the treated skin.
- Use a gentle, low-pH cleanser if you need to cleanse.Your care team may recommend skin care products that you can use. If not, ask. When using a cleanser, gently apply it with your hands and rinse it off with warm water. Again, you don’t want to use a washcloth or sponge, which can irritate your skin. We highly recommend Hernuvin Wash as your overall body cleanser – it is gentle and will not irritate your skin. It will restore your skin’s pH balance and calm redness and soothe irritated areas.
- Ignore the lines drawn on your skin.You may want to scrub these lines off, but trying to remove them will irritate your skin.
- Avoid shaving the treated skin.This can irritate your skin, which could cause a painful rash.
- Apply moisturiser every day as directed. This helps your skin recover more quickly from treatment, but don’t apply moisturiser to a wound. Be sure to use only the moisturiser that your cancer team recommends, and apply it as directed. We highly recommend Hernuvin Moisturiser as it was specially designed for cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment. It will soothe and recover traumatised skin back to full health. The Hernuvin Skin Care range was developed to support skin during cancer treatment. Therefore we have gone to great care to ensure that the Hernuvin range is effective, yet as gentle and supportive as possible so as not to interfere with cancer management in any way.
Making the following changes until your skin feels normal can help reduce possible side effects:
- Care for wounds as directed.Some people develop redness, sores, or scabs during radiation therapy. If you need to care for a wound, be sure to follow the directions you’re given. Doing so can help your skin recover more quickly and avoid a serious reaction.
- Skip the antiperspirant and talcum powder.Ingredients in these products can increase the amount of radiation you get. You can use deodorant instead of antiperspirant. However, if you develop redness, swelling, or soreness where you applied the deodorant, stop using deodorant, too.
- Don’t apply anything sticky to your skin.This includes medical supplies with adhesive, such as medical tape, stick-on bandages, and nicotine patches. The adhesive can irritate and damage skin treated with radiation. If you need to wear a patch for medical reasons, apply it to skin that has not been treated with radiation.
- Take a break from products that contain fragrance.Makeup and skin care products often contain fragrance, which can irritate your skin and cause a reaction. Unless a product says it’s “fragrance free,” it’s likely to contain fragrance. Even unscented products contain fragrance. The Hernuvin range is a great addition to your skin care routine during cancer treatment as it is gentle, fragrance free and aimed at restoring traumatised skin to full health.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes.You can develop side effects if clothing rubs against skin that has been treated with radiation. Wearing loose-fitting clothing helps to prevent these side effects.
Spending time outdoors and leisure time:
Being outside can help relieve stress, but you want to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays, heat, and cold. This is what dermatologists recommend:
- Cover your treated skin with sun-protective clothing. The sun can irritate skin that’s been treated with radiation. Before going outdoors, put on sun-protective clothing. You can find sun-protective clothing online, but any clothing that you hold up to a bright light and cannot see through offers sun protection. Just make sure that the clothing is loose-fitting. A wide-brimmed hat can protect your head and neck.
- Use the sunscreen that your care team recommends.Your care team will recommend skin care products that you can use, including sunscreen. If you don’t remember getting a recommendation for sunscreen, ask someone on your care team which sunscreen you should use. We do recommend Hernuvin Sun Care as it has been specially formulated to protect and recover your skin from damage and trauma.
- Seek shade when outdoors.This helps to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays.
- Don’t use a tanning bed or other tanning device.These tend to emit more UV rays than the sun, so they can seriously damage your skin.
- Skip the hot tub.The heat can irritate your skin. If the hot tub hasn’t been properly cleaned, you could also develop a serious infection.
- Bundle up when the temperature nears (or falls below) freezing.The cold can irritate your skin. To prevent this, bundle up when it’s cold outdoors and limit your time outside in the cold.
Spending time at home:
Until therapy is over and your skin feels normal, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Don’t put anything hot or cold on your treated skin.A heating pad or ice pack may seem like a good idea, but anything that’s hot or cold can irritate your skin.
- Protect your treated skin while doing chores.If you’re getting radiation treatments on your hands or lower arms, you’ll want to protect your skin with gloves while doing chores, such as doing dishes. We recommend that you try Hernuvin Hand Care. It’s a beautiful formulation that restores hydration in dry and over-exposed skin on the hands.
After radiation therapy: Pay attention to your treated skin
Some side effects occur weeks, months, or years after your last radiation treatment. This can happen even if you had no side effects during treatment. To catch these side effects early, dermatologists recommend the following:
- Watch your treated skin for signs of change. After treatment, it’s important to pay close attention to the skin that was treated with radiation therapy. If you see redness, a rash, or any other change, call your oncologist. However, the right skin care may lessen the side effects that develop on your skin.
- Protect the treated area from the sun.Anyone who has had radiation treatments has a higher risk of developing skin cancer in that area. Skin cancer tends to show up many years later, so this makes sun protection essential for life. Hernuvin Sun Care is an essential item that you should add to your daily skin care routine.
If you develop a skin problem after cancer treatment, you don’t have to live with the discomfort. Taking care of your skin during and after radiation therapy will benefit your skin. It will also benefit your soul as every day self-care starts the healing process and reminds yourself that you are worth it!
Thank you for taking the time to read our article. Until next time, take care of yourself and your skin. You deserve it!
WHY HERNUVIN SKIN CARE
Medically designed and scientifically formulated by a specialist plastic surgeon (whose anaesthetist is a breast cancer survivor), Hernuvin is specifically formulated to address the side effects of Chemotherapy and traumatised skin.
Whether your skin is normal, showing the signs of ageing or recovering from the effects of chemotherapy and estrogen depletion, the Hernuvin Skin Care Range offers a simple skin care regime that facilitates the restoration of ailing skin, as well as providing effective prevention and protective assistance for all skin types.Find out more about our skin care range
American Academy of Dermatology. “Skin conditions could hinder treatment in cancer patients, negatively impact quality of life.” News release issued February 4, 2011. Last accessed August 24, 2018.
Greenwald E, Gorcey L, et al. “Poster 2706: Importance of skin cancer screening after radiation therapy.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(5) suppl 1:AB199. Commercial support: None identified.
Hymes SR, Strom EA, et al. “Radiation dermatitis: Clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and treatment.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006;54(1):28-46.
Veness M and Richards S. “Radiotherapy.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:2127-37.