Sunday, July 21, 2013

8-Wheeled Anti-Radiation Tomb and Other Radiation Skin Care Tips

The one side effect that everyone undergoing radiation therapy will experience is skin irritation and potential breakdown. Most people compare the skin reaction to a sunburn -- how bad of a sunburn will depend on a number of factors. Don't assume that having darker skin will protect you from the effect, you should still care for your skin as if you are the palest person you have ever seen.

Start moisturizing your skin every day (preferably twice a day) as soon as you know you will have to have radiation. Before your first day of radiation therapy, you can use whichever moisturizers you like best. Once your treatments start, use only moisturizers recommended by your radiation team.

As much as you can, keep things from rubbing against your radiated skin during treatment –- clothes, skin, creepy dudes. If you're getting radiation therapy on one or more breasts, the fold at the bottom of the breast and the area under your arm will be most prone to irritation from both skin-to-skin and skin-to-clothing contact. Pick your bras wisely, or go braless if you are fortunate enough for that to result in LESS rubbing (some of us windup with even more rubbing without a bra). Definitely keep the creepy dudes away from those areas.

Saline soaks are wonderfully soothing for warm and irritated skin. You can prepare your own saline to save money, or purchase packaged saline at any pharmacy. Combine your saline soak with a soothing mask or foot soak to make it a spa experience.

Continue to cleanse your skin daily, but use only gentle non-drying soaps. If you are having radiation treatments to your head or neck use gentle non-drying shampoo to wash your hair. Two trials compared the effects of washing regularly to not washing during radiation treatments. In both trials, both groups experienced the same number of adverse effects. So, keep up the good hygiene during your treatments.


Choice of Moisturizer

If you're about to start radiation therapy you may be wondering which moisturizer to use, whether to apply aloe or calendula to your skin, and just how much this is going to cost you. Luckily, several studies have been done looking at the effectiveness of various treatments.

A randomized study showed that calendula ointment is more effective than Biafine (trolamine), a topical ointment that is commonly used in France. However this study did not include a group that used simple water-based moisturizers or a group that used no topical treatments. Also, due to the different consistencies and colouring of the two ointments studies, the study could not be double-blind, although patients' doctors were not informed which ointments patients had been given.

According to a Cancer Care Ontario report other studies comparing the effectiveness of various types of topical treatments and moisturizers, including aloe, during radiation therapy have shown little to no difference between treatments.

So, at this point it seems that any recommendation from your radiation team will be fine. Don't feel that you have to spend a lot of money on your ointments or moisturizers, as increased cost does not appear to offer any improved outcome. In general, recommended products will be unscented, lanolin-free, and water-based (hydrophilic). Read the ingredients list to make sure there are no ingredients that you are sensitive to -– your skin will be even more sensitive during and after radiation.

PS
If you're wondering about the title, it's from Hawkwind's Damnation Alley -- the first song on my last rad day playlist.

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