Cancer and Skincare
Cancer treatments, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, are effective in treating cancer but can and do have many difficult side effects on your body. One of these side effects is the disruption of the skin barrier.
The effects of radiotherapy treatment on the skin can vary from person to person and will depend on the area of the body undergoing the treatment. For many people skin becomes dry, products that once worked no longer do so, skin can become red in patches where radiation is being targeted (as well as other parts of the body) and the skin can become extra sensitive.
The side effects of chemotherapy on the skin will depend on the type of chemotherapy drug administered. For instance, Erbitux, a drug used to treat colorectal cancer cannot distinguish between cells of the skin and cancer cells due to a protein found in both types of cells. Hence, the high rate of skin related side effects with this drug.
We have looked at the research and picked out some information to help minimise the side effects on your skin during and after treatment. We are addressing relatively minor skin concerns here. The professionals in your oncology and dermatology team will address the more serious issues. Do please look to local cancer support networks who will provide you with information and other supports such as massages, yoga and relaxation techniques which will help you through a challenging time. https://www.cancer.ie/information-support
While clinical trials are still too few in this area the following tips emerge from the available research:
Use a gentle moisturising cream on the face and body twice a day during treatment. This is true except for during treatment with lipophilic chemotherapeutic agents.
During treatment some people find they are sensitive to particular smells. Some might even make you feel sick. So unperfumed products may be best (avoid talcum powders, body lotions, soaps etc that contain a fragrance)
Gentle cleansing is key to maintaining sebum levels so use a product with a balanced pH of 5.5.
Use a lukewarm water rather than hot which can dry out your skin further and immediately after a shower use a Shower Oil to absorb moisture into the skin
Avoid products containing benzylperoxide and retinol.
Wear an SPF of 15 or higher that includes a UVA barrier.
Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, which helps brighten your complexion. It also lets your skin better absorb serums and moisturisers. However, as your skin may be extra sensitive make sure to pick an exfoliator that is not harsh or does not strip your skin. Advice can be found at make-up counters, beauticians, online and so on.
Face masks can be used once or twice a week. Creamy masks help to hydrate and are good for dry or mature skin. Clay masks draw out impurities and are better for oily skin.
Use non-comedogenic makeup to cover up hyperpigmentation or erythema (redness)
Why are Element 8 products suitable for people going through cancer treatment?All of our products are fragrance free, contain naturally derived and organic ingredients. We do not use parabens and all of our ingredients have the highest possible safety rating. Click To Tweet
Element 8 Moisturising Cream contains rich organic oils and water binding ingredients. It is deeply hydrating and will soothe and balance sensitive skin. The Hyaluronic Serum applied under the moisturiser will penetrate the lower layers of the skin providing an extra boost of hydration to dry, tired skin. The Collagen Eye Cream is designed to increase elasticity and firmness. All the ingredients in E8 products were chosen to nourish skin while at the same time being extra gentle on the skin.
As a last piece of advice, try to get samples of any product before you buy and look online for feedback from other people about products you are interested in so that you can compare different ranges.
Make sure you check with your doctor or nurse specialist before using any skin care products and tell them as soon as you notice any signs or symptoms so that they can help.
Cancer Manag Res. 2013; 5: 401–408.
Daily baseline skin care in the prevention, treatment, and supportive care of skin toxicity in oncology patients: recommendations from a multinational expert panel. René-Jean Bensadoun et al.
Patient Information Leaflets from Mater Private and Limerick Regional Hospital.