Undergoing chemotherapy and radiation can be stressful on the body. On top of all theother side effects, chemo and radiation can cause dry, irritated skin. Treating your skin properly approximately one week before and during treatment can help prevent these side effects. While many think dry skin is simply cosmetic, the more irritated your skin gets, the more susceptible to infection it becomes. Use these helpful tips to keep skin moisturized, irritant and infection free:
Avoid long hot showers or baths.
Use fragrance-free, natural laundry detergent.
Use gentle, fragrance-free, environmentally sound cleansing products. Do not use harsh loofahs. A wash cloth is acceptable.
Use chemical and fragrance-free moisture creams or ointments rather than lotions, which have a thicker consistency and are better for dry skin.
Use sunscreen with a mineral base, not petroleum, to protect skin from UVA rays (view Toxic Sunscreen blog). Check out our June 21st event we will teach you a DIY natural oil-based sunscreen!
For radiation burn, rather than petroleum based creams try ten drops of lavender oil with purified aloe vera in a glass spray bottle and spray on affected areas.
Cover your skin to protect it from the sun as it is more sun-sensitive after chemo and radiation.
Wear loose fitting, cotton or natural fiber clothing to reduce skin irritation.
Avoid deodorants with aluminum as they can be very irritating to the skin and are correlated to breast cancer (NCI).
Toss cosmetics you’ve had for more than 6 months. They are a breeding ground for bacteria.
If your skin is still extremely irritated despite all these efforts or you have a rash, you should contact your doctor. He/she may prescribe hydrocortisone cream or steroid cream to calm the irritation (Kam, Ness).
In addition to your skin, understand your finger nails and toenails may change and need extra care during chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The skin around the nails may become dry and should be treated with moisture cream or oil. They can also turn black, don’t be alarmed. It’s important to trim and clean your nails properly to avoid infection. Toe nails will be more susceptible to becoming ingrown, which is a slight infection of the nail pressing into the skin. However if not treated properly, the infection can become more serious with other bacteria or fungi. Try not to bite your fingernails as that will also make them more susceptible to infection (Cancer Care).
Treat your skin right, Thrivers! Onward.