Skin toxicity is a common side effect of chemotherapy. Skin toxicity reactions range in intensity among individuals. They typically include dry or itchy skin, hyperpigmentation, rash, photosensitivity, and color change. Oncology trained spa therapists work with cancer patients to minimize the effect and duration of skin toxicity. This includes sharing specialized knowledge about skin care products and ingredients. One size does not fit all. All treatment is contingent upon a patient’s specific cancer treatment protocol, skin type, age, and personal expectations.
When it comes to buying skin care products there are a number of general rules of thumb oncology patients should consider:
- Choose creams and ointments rather than lotions. Creams are generally more effective at retaining moisture.
- Choose fragrance-free soaps and creams.
- Generally speaking, choose products with fewer ingredients.
- Choose synthetic-free and non-carcinogenic products.
- Avoid using products you don’t need.
Just because a product is labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ does not mean it’s safe. These products can still contain allergens and other irritants that could make a condition worse. If the skin is dry and sore, lightweight creams applied after bathing can alleviate discomfort, yet still be effective. Rashes on the face should not be treated the same way as acne. Choose light hydrating facial products without ingredients such as beta- or alpha-hydroxy acids, alcohol or minerals. These will dry the skin and can lead to more irritation.
Consulting with a skin care professional experienced with the symptoms and specific side effects of cancer treatment and skin toxicity is best. Oncology esthetics practitioners trained at Oncology Training International are qualified to help choose the right skin care products given a patient’s treatment oncology protocol, state of treatment, current health, and even budget.