Managing Dry Skin after Breast Cancer Radiation


Most cancer patients receive radiation therapy at some point during their treatment. Radiation therapy causes numerous side effects such as erythema, itchy, flaking skin (dry desquamation), and other severe reactions like moist desquamation. Repeated radiation exposure can cause an imbalance in tissue damage and repair making the exposed skin to repair itself slower than usual.

Here are suggestions to help manage dry skin after radiation:

  • Moisturize your skin – Keep your skin moisturized by applying rich moisturizer after bathing or washing your hands. Moisturizers such as Eucerin, Vanicream, and Cetaphil can work best on the skin because they are thicker. You can also apply oil when the skin is still damp. Oil such as emu oil is ideal for improving the healing of burns that result from radiation therapy.
  • Use sunblock – Sunblock can be applied to the face, hands, face, back of the neck and other areas that are exposed to the sun. This should be done before stepping outside, and the sunblock should have an SPF of 15 or higher.
  • Avoid harsh and drying soaps – Use mild soaps with added oils or fats. Cleansing creams or shower gels with moisturizers are also ideal. You should avoid antibacterial soaps and deodorants that are harsh.
  • Use a humidifier – If you stay in a climate that is cold, you can use a humidifier. Ensure that the humidifier is clean to prevent fungi and bacteria from accumulating.
  • Bath with lukewarm water – Avoid hot water when bathing and limit your shower time to about 15 minutes or less.
  • Wear natural fabrics – Silk and cotton fabrics are good because they breathe. Stay away from wool because it irritates sensitive skin.

Dry skin only lasts during treatment but will gradually go away once you complete your treatment. For severely dry skin that shows deep cracks, consult with the doctor to recommend medicine that will control infection.

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