Dermatologists Share How To Care For Your Skin During Cancer Treatment
When someone finds out about their cancer diagnosis, their whole life changes along with the lives of those who love them. Trying to be mentally and emotionally strong is essential- which can be challenging.
While trying to figure out the right course of action with treatment, skincare is probably one of the last things you're thinking about, but your doctor will likely tell you to change your skincare routine because cancer treatments can also affect your skin.
There are many new cancer treatments. "Some cancers are treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and/or immunotherapy," Arizona-based double board-certified adult and pediatric dermatologist Dr. Karan Lal says. He added that all these treatments could dry out your skin and/or cause rashes. Dr. Lal is also a fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologist currently practicing at Affiliated Dermatology in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"Many cancer treatments can influence your immune system. Some boost your immune system and cause rashes, while others weaken your immune system and may predispose your skin to infections," Dr. Lal adds. It is, for this reason, crucial to maintain your skin barrier. According to Dr. Lal, radiation can even cause skin burns and scarring, making your skin itchy.
Here's what you need to know about skincare during cancer treatment
While genetics play an important role, external factors such as your diet, lifestyle habits, and weather play a role in the condition of your skin. According to Cancer Center, various cancer treatments, including chemotherapies, immunotherapies, and radiation, can cause a rash, dry or itchy skin, color changes, or extreme sensitivity to light that might be temporary or last longer.
But how does your skin change after cancer diagnosis and during treatment?
"The skin may become drier and more sensitive after a cancer diagnosis and during treatment. For this reason, it is important to be gentle on the skin, using products designed for sensitive skin, and to remember to moisturize the skin," Manhattan-based board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick of MDCS Dermatology says.
According to Dr. Garshick, caring for your skin during this time is important. "The skin functions as a physical and functional barrier to keep moisture in and prevent microbes and irritants from entering the skin," she adds.
Especially when the immune system is compromised, as is often the case with cancer and cancer treatment, it is vital to support the skin barrier function to prevent infections and irritations.
Most people know that there is hair loss during chemo, so caring for your scalp is essential. Dr. Garshick says, "Yes, caring for the scalp is not only important as it is an extension of the skin, but also for those concerned about hair loss or those who experience hair loss.” It is imperative to remember to protect the skin on the scalp.
Dermatologist- recommended products for cancer patients
Most people associate skincare products with their cosmetic value. However, the right skincare products can help protect and heal the skin barrier during cancer treatment as the immune system is compromised and the skin is more prone to infections.
First and foremost, it's important to keep your skin clean. Dr. Garshick recommends La Roche Posay Lipikar Wash AP+ Moisturizing Body & Face Wash.
"This wash is considered suitable for patients undergoing chemotherapy. It is a gentle and nourishing wash that helps to moisturize and won't leave the skin feeling dry or irritated," she says.
Both Dr. Garshick and Dr. Lal recommend La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 as a great option for those being treated for cancer with chemotherapy and radiation as it is gentle on the skin and helps to protect the skin as well.
Dr. Lal says, "Cicaplast balm b5 is good for dry skin irritation as it is very soothing and safe to use."
For another moisturizer, Dr. Lal's pick is Lipikar AP+M Triple Repair Body Moisturizer For Dry Skin. "This has been studied in patients undergoing chemo and radiation," he adds.
La Roche Posay partnered with the American Cancer Society to promote proper skincare during cancer treatment and has products that are safe to use during this time to heal and soothe the skin.
*All images courtesy of La Roche Posay