How to take care of your skin during radiation treatment

When undergoing radiation treatment, patients may experience skin reactions on the area being treated. While usually minor, the reactions vary depending on the location of radiation and the type and amount of radiation. Reactions may develop about three weeks after treatment begins and go away within a few weeks of the end of treatment.

Skin reactions to radiation do not mean the cancer is spreading or that there's a problem with treatment. The American Society of Radiologic Technologists provides more information about skin reactions to radiation treatment and how to care for them. Take note of any skin irritation and discuss it with your doctor, especially if you experience blistering, swelling or tenderness.

How to care for your skin

  • Be sure to clean the skin affected by the radiation treatment with warm water and a mild soap.
  • Stay away from any products that contain alcohol or perfumes as well as lotions, makeup, deodorant and powder.
  • Wear loose, soft cotton clothes rather than tight clothes with elastic.
  • Treat your skin gingerly. Do not rub, scrub or use tape (such as band aids).
  • Avoid exposing the affected skin to the sun. After treatment, your skin will be more susceptible to sun damage. You should always apply SPF 15 or higher after your skin has healed.
  • Avoid getting hot water on the skin. Take short, lukewarm showers or baths only once a day.

Read more information about caring for your skin here, and discuss any concerns with your physician and health care team.

By Josh Kermisch, executive director of WVCI

Posted December 5, 2011


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