How to Care for Your Skin During and After Radiation Therapy

Published on August 22, 2019

Radiation therapy plays a crucial role in many patients’ treatment plan, and just like over the counter or prescribed medication, it can have side-effects.

Radiation treatments are typically performed by focusing a beam of radiation on the outside of the body. For patients with a tumor inside their body, the radiation beam passes through the skin and into and through the tumor. Most dermatologists recommend you should be washing your face with warm water, avoid excessive sun exposure, and apply a moisturizer daily to keep your face hydrated. However, if you are receiving radiation treatments, near or around your face, this daily routine needs to be done like clockwork twice per day. Having said that, it is important to confirm the best approach with your radiation therapy doctor.

Just because you have been receiving radiation treatments or might have years previously, that does not necessarily mean you are out of the woods. Surprisingly, reactions can occur weeks, months, or years after your last radiation treatment. This can happen even if you had no side effects during treatment. Although everyone’s skin type is different, some patients have reported itchy, scaly skin, rashes or growths near or around the treated site which in turn can become a severe issue if they are not evaluated and diagnosed.

If you develop a skin problem after cancer treatment, there are ways to address it. 

Thanks to advancements in medicine, today, radiation treatments can be performed in a more localized fashion thus avoiding damage to the skin. However, that does not necessarily negate the risk of future problems occurring. The way radiation treatment works is by destroying cancer cells in the treated area; however, some normal tissue including skin can also be damaged. Repeated radiation exposure causes an imbalance in tissue damage and repair so that exposed skin is damaged faster than it can repair itself. After treatment is complete, patients typically wear loose-fitting clothing and keep their skin from excessive temperature changes, powders, creams, and pain patches.

If you have any questions on skin cancer or the discomfort of radiation treatments, please reach out to us. To learn more about how hyperthermia treatment works and to find out if it may be right for you, contact our office to schedule your consultation today.