Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in US women, affecting approximately 240,000 women annually. If you are among these warriors, you must be aware of skin care challenges that arise due to constant exposure to medication and radiation.
Regular chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and radiology sessions can lead to acute skin toxicity, which causes swelling, pigmentation, radiation, itching, and burning. To help you fight these issues, in this blog, we share beauty and self-care tips that can reduce the effects of skin toxicity.
Skin Care Essentials
Your skin becomes very sensitive during cancer therapy, so stick to a less-is-more approach when buying skincare products. Instead of instantly grabbing fancy-sounding ingredients like vitamin C or retinol, do a little patch test on the inside of your arm or behind your ear. Even if you’ve been using these products for ages, your skin might decide it’s not a fan during or after treatment.
Use mild soap to cleanse your skin and apply gentle body lotion or cream to lock in hydration. If you experience irritation or a burning sensation, wash off the product and discontinue use immediately. Trust your body, listen to it, and get expert advice if in doubt. Your skin will thank you for it!
Beauty and Self-Care Tips for Women with Breast Cancer
From diagnosis to treatment, battling with breast cancer is a path filled with various ups and downs. After navigating this minefield and coming victorious on the other side, the last thing you should have to worry about is bad skin.
Use these skincare essentials that are tailored to your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment to revive your skin:
Skincare After Metastatic Breast Cancer Treatment
Metastatic or stage four breast cancer spreads beyond the chest area and lymph nodes. Treatment depends on the cancer’s subtype, but mostly, it includes radiation and chemotherapy. These treatments can severely damage the skin tissue and cause:
- Acne: HER2 inhibitors in cancer treatment medication can lead to acne and rash flair-ups. Take oral or topical antibiotics to reduce inflammation. Avoid over-the-counter acne creams and products containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid as they dry the skin.
- Parched Patches: Chemotherapy causes inflammation, resulting in skin shedding. As soon as you start chemo, regularly moisturize your skin with unscented products that contain protective ceramides.
- Heat Rash: Fluorouracil in chemo infusion can increase sweating and form a rash on armpits, breasts, and genitals. Immediately shower with a gentle soap after infusion and avoid using a blanket.
- Sun Sensitivity: Cancer therapies can cause heighten the sensitivity to UV rays. Always slather sunscreen with 30+ SPF and wear wide-brimmed hats, protective clothing, and gloves before entering daylight.
Mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which some or all breast tissue is removed to stop disease onset. If you’ve undergone a mastectomy, your immediate concern is preventing infection by keeping the skin clean.
Follow your surgeon’s instructions, wash your skin with antibacterial soap, and keep a lookout for signs of redness, drainage, or increasing pain. To heal the surgery scar, apply an ointment or petroleum jelly, as it prevents skin irritation.
Chemotherapy and Skin Care
Chemotherapy can cause dry skin, which can break the skin surface and invite infections. Due to this reason, it is essential to use skincare products to maintain a healthy and hydrated skin barrier.
You can maintain good hydration with creams, ointments, or oils. Opt for fragrance-free, glycerin-rich formulas and apply these moisturizers immediately after showering, bathing, or washing your hands and face.
Radiation Treatment and Skin Care
Radiation treatment can feel like a sunburn, leading to redness, itching, and even blisters. Regularly wash the treated area with soapy water to prevent infection. Use gentle scrubbing motions to avoid further irritation of the skin.
Make sure to stay away from products with active ingredients, such as AHAs, BHAs, or retinol, as they can further irritate the skin. Instead, you can use calendula-spiked moisturizers or standard petroleum jelly to stay moisturized.
Hormone Therapy and Skin Care
Hormone therapy also dries skin tissue and causes melisma (pigmentation of the skin). These conditions can worsen with exposure to UV rays and blue light from tech devices.
To create a protective barrier for your skin, apply a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid or glycerin after bathing. You also need to put on sunscreen with 30+ SPF to minimize damage from sun rays.
Breast cancer is a mentally and physically exhausting journey, which also takes a toll on the skin in the form of dryness, acne, and itchiness. Acknowledging the power of beauty and self-care can help you tackle this disease and its effects on your body. Engaging in self-care rituals, whether moisturizing your body or wearing protective clothing, can make a significant difference.
Don’t hesitate to indulge in various skincare practices to take care of yourself. Always remember, you’re beautiful, just the way you are!
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