People diagnosed with cancer have so many things on their minds after the diagnosis…how will I take care of my family, how will this affect my job, will I be okay, etc...that they often overlook their skincare needs.
Although it may seem a trivial point, “How will cancer treatments affect my skin?” It really isn’t that trivial. Skincare during cancer treatments is very important.
Any anti-cancer treatment WILL block rapidly growing cells (i.e…your skin cells).
There’s no need to panic — just prepare to treat your skin well so there won’t be problems. You can start to take great care of your skin at any time, but the best thing to do is get your skin in great shape before treatments begin.
45% of people have some prior skin condition before they start treatments for cancer (source). The conditions from dryness to sensitivity will be exacerbated by the treatments. The good news is most skin problems can be mitigated by good care and good product choices.
There are many things you can do to keep your skin in good health during cancer treatments. Below you’ll find some skincare during cancer treatment tips.
1. Watch the temperature
Stay away from extremes, use warm water (not hot or cold) for bathing. When the weather is cold, indoor air can be very drying, but an excellent humidifier can help. Extreme summer heat or extreme winter cold may irritate your skin — consider lessoning time outdoors during temperature extremes. Wind can also parch skin.
2. Avoid anything that will dry your skin
Take short showers, skip swimming pools and hot tubs, and avoid any prolonged time in the water. You might add oatmeal, natural carrier oils, or lavender essential oil to your bath. Avoid putting anything alcohol based on your skin: fragrances, bug sprays, and even aloe vera gel (may contain alcohol). Always read labels.
3. Watch your fabrics
Look into flannel washcloths if regular washcloths are too abrasive. Examine your wardrobe; wear only soft comfortable fabrics for duration of treatments. Choose fragrance-free laundry soap (you can use this DIY recipe without the lavender) and if necessary rinse clothes twice to remove soap residue.
4. Choose products to help strengthen skin and hydrate skin
Choose products made with natural plant oils and butters to help lock in moisture. Synthetic products (like petroleum jelly) will sit on top of skin while shea butter, cocoa butter, and plant oils will penetrate skin and hydrate it. Have a simple cleansing and moisturizing routine and stick to it. I like oil cleansing of the skin or honey cleansing. If you wear makeup you will need a gentle cleanser and this Scratch Mommy DIY face wash will totally fit the bill.
This is not the time for anti-aging products, exfoliants, or any treatment (skin-lightening, wrinkle reducing, etc…). Look into the healing power of herbs. Calendula is known for reducing skin inflammation, while tea tree oil reduces inflammation and is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Using skincare that contains these herbs can ward off problems before they begin. Interesting enough, calendula oil prevented dermatitis on breast cancer patients from radiation treatments (source). Consider using these on your skin during treatments to prevent problems.
I personally love lavender essential oil in cleansers, moisturizers, and bath products to reduce skin irritation.
5. Protect the skin from the sun
Skin needs good protection from the skin and there is really no opposing view on this point. Avoid the sun during peak hours, wear a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses, and wear a non-irritating sunscreen and lip balm with sunscreen. I love organic mineral foundation for women (and Scratch Mommy’s organic foundation), as well as Scratch Mommy’s SkinShade for organic, healthy, and effective sun protection. The Skin Cancer Foundation has lots of great advice for minimizing sun exposure.
6. Be Proactive
Inspect your skin daily. Talk to your doctor if you have rashes, open sores, or any other skin problem; don’t hope these problems will simply go away.
Thanks go to Shauna Burton for sharing this great article with you. Shauna is a licensed esthetician with a certification in oncology and is a licensed acupuncturist trained by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers. Shauna also wanted you to know that she finds Pronounce Skincare products are great to use before, during, and after cancer treatments. as she loves using them for her own clients. 🙂
Click Here to Email Shauna (who practices in both Paoli & Bloomington, Indiana)