When we think of the side effects of cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, our first thought is usually hair loss or nausea. But cancer treatments can have a dramatic effect on the look and feel of your skin, too.
Chemotherapy targets fast-growing cells, and since all skin cells are fast-growing, they are profoundly affected. Chemotherapy may lead to skin reactions like dryness, irritation, pigment changes, rashes, and photosensitivity.
While radiation therapy, on the other hand, targets cancer cells, the skin is especially susceptible to radiation treatment. This treatment can cause skin reactions like irritation, redness, pain, and swelling. Sometimes, these symptoms can get worse as the treatment process continues. At its worst, radiation therapy can cause permanent damage to the skin.
As the largest organ in your body, the health of your skin plays a significant role in your appearance and the health of your body as a whole—which is why it’s so important to protect your skin to prevent the effects of cancer treatment on the skin. Here are a few ways to care for your skin during breast cancer treatment:
1. Only clean your skin with a gentle cleanser.
Rather than choosing an alcohol-based cleanser that will strip your skin of vital nutrients and cause dehydration, go with a gentle cleanser that will clean your skin without damaging it. Be sure to wash your face in cool water because hot water increases the blood flow in your skin, causing additional irritation and dryness.
2. Apply a medical-grade serum.
Facial serums are lightweight moisturizers with the ability to hydrate deep within the skin, delivering essential ingredients to skin cells and encouraging hydration. Apply a small amount of medical-grade, clinically validated serum to feed your skin cells the nutrients lost through cancer treatment.
3. Continuously reapply moisturizer.
Applying a quality moisturizer is essential to any daily skin care routine, but during cancer treatment, it’s especially important. Dry, irritated skin is a common symptom of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy. By liberally applying a moisturizer that matches your skin type morning, afternoon, and evening – or as needed – you will soothe irritated skin and hydrate dry cells.
4. Always use sunscreen.
While undergoing cancer treatment, your skin is even more sensitive to the sun than it would be under normal conditions. By applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 that includes UVA and UVB ray protections, you’re protecting against dark spots, sunburn, and additional susceptibility to skin cancer. And don’t just apply it on sunny days! Remember: the sun’s rays can penetrate clouds, too. So slather on that sunscreen every day.
5. Splurge on a medical-grade facial.
What’s more soothing than a facial? We recommend treating you to a hydrating medical-grade facial specifically designed for cancer patients, which you can purchase at a cosmetic doctor’s office. Not only does it feel good, but it also hydrates your skin and makes your cells more workable with other products, like moisturizers and serums.
Want to help us spread awareness about breast cancer? Consider making a donation! We could not publish articles like these without donations from individuals like you. Even a gift as small as one dollar helps!