How can I take care of my skin during chemotherapy?

Anti-cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or hormone therapy cause side effects, the most visible of which is of course hair loss, but also damage to the skin. So how do you take care of your skin during treatment?

What problems are possible for skin under treatment?

Cancer treatments can sometimes lead to redness, patches, dryness, tightness or acne... These are called skin side effects. They are not systematic because everyone is unique and reacts in their own way to the different treatments. It is important to know that most of these effects are reversible when the treatment is stopped and that generally all these skin changes can be relieved by suitable dermocosmetic treatments.

A syndrome known as hand-foot syndrome may occur during treatment. It particularly affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and is characterised by redness, swelling, dryness or blistering. It is caused by certain chemotherapy molecules and targeted therapies. If you suffer from hand-foot syndrome, apply a moisturising agent to the skin regularly and generously. To prevent this syndrome, you can plan a manicure and pedicure before starting treatment, if the hands and feet are already a little damaged (presence of horn) this will limit the impact and appearance of this syndrome.

When erythema (or burning) occurs during radiotherapy, apply a moisturiser between sessions but never just before a session, as advised by your doctor. Also avoid perfumes, deodorants and lotions before the radiotherapy session. Inform your radiotherapy oncologist of any medication you are taking, as some drugs can cause particular sensitivity to radiation. If, in spite of this, burns appear, inform your radiotherapist.

Will my skin become dry or oily?

The problem with anti-cancer treatments is that they can be eliminated through the urine, but also through the pores of the skin, which can make it dry, sensitive, and feel hot, but for some people it can also make it oily.

What should you use as body cleansing products?

When washing, it is recommended to use soap-free cleansing gels or superfatted bars that respect the acid pH of the skin. Ordinary soaps should not be used because their pH is not suitable, but especially because they often contain compounds such as alcohol or perfumes.

For the face, to clean it without attacking it, whatever the type of skin, micellar water can be used because it does not attack the skin. The ideal is even to use a micellar gel in order to pass it not with cotton which will automatically brush the skin but with the fingers in order to massage it to restore the elasticity of the face.

To rinse off, spritz with thermal water and let the water drain off, then dry the excess very gently with a soft cotton pad (not a terry towel, which can be a bit rough and damage the skin).

What creams and products should I use?

Once the face is clean, the skin should be moisturised with a nourishing and comfortable day cream. If your usual skincare cream and/or serum does not cause reactions, you can continue to use them. Otherwise, choose products that are fragrance-free, paraben-free, preservative-free to minimise possible allergic reactions and suitable for the treatment of fragile skin.

Be very careful with the so-called miracle use of essential oils, which can be very aggressive on tired skin, and prefer vegetable oils such as sweet almonds, argan or wheat germ oil.

Beware also of chemical products which contain a lot of preservatives, but also of organic products because some natural products can be too strong and cause allergic reactions in the skin.

In any case, whatever the product (cleansing gel, soap, make-up remover, cream or sun cream), choose dermocosmetics with simple formulas without perfume, paraben or preservatives. The brand, Self Care Cancer Box offers a wide range of very pleasant products that are accessible to all. Whether you're looking for the best lotion for chemo skin or something for your face or lips, you can find them.

Should I protect my skin from the sun?

This is the most important thing you can do to protect your skin. On top of your day cream, remember to add the indispensable and obligatory anti-UVA and anti-UVB sun protection cream with maximum protection indices, even if you don't go out much, because don't forget that windows and clouds don't filter out UVA.
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