Skin Changes After Radiation Treatment

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Many types of cancers require radiation treatment and they can cause significant changes to your skin during and after the process. Radiation therapy can be associated with breast, cervix, eye, neck, and prostate cancer. If you do have to undergo this procedure, a change to your skincare routine can help to greatly minimize the skin-related conditions that develop during and after your treatment.  


Typical Skin Conditions with Radiation

You can expect to begin to notice skin side effects roughly one-fourth of the way through your radiation treatment. The reactions may be different depending upon on which part of your body is receiving radiation. The dosage can also affect the severity of skin changes.


Many of the symptoms are similar to that of sun damage. Such skin changes might include redness, dry skin, skin darkening, swelling, flaking, itching, skin tightening, and blistering. Much like the reactions of chemotherapy, these uncomfortable side effects are temporary and will go away once you complete radiation, after several weeks.  


A Radiation Skincare Routine

Your skin will be extra sensitive during radiation and for some time after the treatment ends. You should mix up your skincare routine a bit to minimize the discomfort and noticeable changes. You might consider:


  • Pat dry after a shower rather than rubbing harshly.
  • Use a mild soap.
  • Apply mineral oils as approved by your radiation therapist.
  • Moisturize frequently.
  • Use sunscreen daily with a minimum SPF 30.
  • Rinse off immediately after swimming in chlorinated or sea salt pools.


Avoid Certain Products and Activities

You will also want to avoid various activities and products you have been using as they could create more problems in the end. Consider avoiding and eliminating the following during your treatments:


  • Fragrant or scented products including lanolin.
  • Washcloths, loofahs, body brushes, etc.
  • Tanning beds and prolonged sun exposure.
  • Hot tubs, heating pads, hot water bottles, and ice packs on treated skin.
  • Do not use any products on open wounds.


After each treatment, be sure to avoid using any products or participating in any grooming activity as it is likely to be painful and could worsen the situation. Also, as a general radiation treatment skincare routine, if at any point your skin becomes irritated from any ingredient, product, or activity, stop immediately and speak with your doctor before you resume.


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