Cancer and cancer treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery can all change how your skin looks and feels. It’s not uncommon for patients to experience a range of side effects, which may include dry skin, discoloration, and sensitivity to the sun.
If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, here are some of the ways that your skin may be affected, and some things that you can do to treat these issues.
Skin rashes can be caused by a variety of factors. They may be a side effect of chemotherapy, and may indicate an allergic reaction to your treatment. Some kinds of biological therapy and hormone therapy can also cause rashes.
If you notice a skin rash after treatment, talk to your doctor about it immediately. Topical creams containing steroids or antibiotics may be prescribed to help clear it up.
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy both destroy cancer cells, but they can also damage other fast-growing cells such as healthy skin cells. This can result in dry, flaky skin. To combat this, keep your skin moisturized.
If this dryness occurs on your hands and feet, it can be a side effect of chemotherapy that’s known as hand-foot syndrome. Treat these areas gently, and do your best to make sure the skin stays cool and moist.
Skin can become itchy as a result of dryness, dehydration, or as a direct result of cancer treatments such as biological therapy. Severe itching of the skin is referred to as pruritus. Skin moisturizers, antibiotics, or cold compresses can help with this issue.
Opt for an electric razor instead of shaving, limit your time in the water when you shower or bathe, and limit your use of soap. Bathe in lukewarm water instead of hot water, and keep your room temperature moderate, as getting hot can make the itching worse.
5. Sensitivity To The Sun
Cancer treatments can leave your skin more fragile and sensitive to the sun, and you might find yourself more easily sunburned. Use skin products recommended by your doctor, and wear sunblock when appropriate.
Also, wear loose clothing that covers exposed skin, but that also allows your skin to breathe.
Your skin may become blotchy or discolored due to radiation therapy, or your skin may appear as if it’s sunburned after treatment. Luckily, your skin tone will often even out and the discoloration will eventually fade.
But if you have concerns about any instances of skin discoloration, consult with your doctor, who can recommend treatment options that will work best for you.
3. Pressure Sores
Cancer treatments can weaken your skin, making pressure sores more likely to develop due to continued friction or pressure against the skin. The waistband on your jeans might not bother your skin normally, but it can aggravate a sore area if your skin has become more fragile.
If you’re experiencing pressure sores, you may have to have the sores assessed by your doctor so they can be appropriately treated. A special bed or mattress can help relieve pressure on certain points of your body.
Other things you can do include keeping your skin clean, protecting the sore area with a bandage or dressing, and wearing loose clothing that doesn’t rub against your skin.
Sweating can be caused by both cancer and cancer treatments. Infections and hormone changes, both of which can be side effects of cancer, can cause sweating. Likewise, hot flushes can be a side effect of chemotherapy and drug treatments.
If sweating is an issue, try to power down any stimulants you take, such as caffeine. Avoid alcohol, spicy foods, and eating late at night. Keep the temperature in your home low, and bathe in cool water. Opt for light, loose clothing that has high breathability.
1. Surgery Scars
Scars from surgery may not be the prettiest thing in the world, but they heal and fade over time. If you are experiencing issues or feel uncomfortable with scarring, there are several treatment options, though be sure to consult with your doctor before making a decision.
You can get over-the-counter creams and ointments to moisturize the scar and help it heal. Steroid injections can help reduce pain and itching. Tight clothing can irritate scars, so wear clothing that allows your skin to breathe.
While skin changes may inevitably come with your cancer treatment, you at least have options when it comes to addressing these issues. You can help prevent many skin problems with proper hygiene and keeping your skin clean. When washing, use mild soap and cool water. Opt for loose clothes over tight, and use mild moisturizers.
Always consult with a doctor if you need guidance or have questions and concerns.
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