You may experience changes in your skin and nails during chemotherapy treatment.
There are many things you can do to alleviate dry skin. Below are some tips:
- Bathe in lukewarm water. Avoid long, hot showers and bubble baths.
- Use mild soaps without fragrance. Consider a body wash, which may be more moisturizing.
- Pat yourself dry instead of rubbing.
- Use a hypoallergenic cream without fragrance to keep your skin moisturized.
- Avoid perfume, cologne or aftershave lotion. These products often contain alcohol which could dry or irritate your skin
- Drink enough liquid to stay properly hydrated.
Sensitivity to sunlight
You may be more susceptible to getting a sunburn or sun rash. Follow these tips to protect your skin from sun damage:
- Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.
- Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds.
- Use a PABA-free sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater and lip balm, no matter your skin tone.
- Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved cotton shirts, hats, sunglasses and pants, when outside.
Skin rash or itching
If you have a rash, blisters, itching, redness or peeling, report the condition to your care team immediately. The following may help you cope with the situation:
- Ask for medications to relieve itching.
- Bathe with fragrance-free body wash.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
It is possible that you could develop acne. Talk with your doctor about over-the-counter or prescription medications that could treat the condition without interfering with your chemotherapy.
Your nails may become darkened or develop white streaks or ridges. It's possible that they will become brittle, dry and cracked. They could lift up from the nailbed. These changes are temporary, but it is important to protect your hands and feet during that time to prevent infection or permanent nail loss. Follow the tips below:
- Gently trim or file nails. Do not cut too close to the nailbed.
- Do not get professional manicures or pedicures without your care team’s consent.
- Use lotions and creams to keep your nails and cuticles healthy.
- Wear gloves while cleaning around the house or yard.
- Do not use nail-strengthening products as they could irritate your skin or nails.
- Talk to your care team before applying artificial nails as they can breed fungal infection and mask nail changes due to treatment.
- Tell your care team if you experience redness, pain or other changes around your cuticles.
A skin infection called paronychia may occur around your fingernails or toenails. It is a common side effect of chemotherapy and usually occurs after two or more months of treatment. Signs of paronychia include:
- Painfully, red swollen area around the nail
- Thickening or discoloration of the nail
If you need to treat paronychia, follow these tips:
- Soak your fingers or toes in a solution of one part white vinegar to 10 parts warm water for 15 minutes every night.
- Wear soft cotton gloves while working with your hands and when sleeping.
- Wear socks with soft padded shoes and slippers to protect your toes.
- Tell your doctor if your symptoms are not improving or worsen. You may need a prescription ointment or cream.
Did you know that cancer treatments can cause changes to your skin? Sometimes these changes are simply cosmetic, but other times they may require attention from your care team.
To better understand skin changes that happen during cancer treatment and how best to address these side effects, we spoke with Anisha Patel, M.D. Here’s what she had to say.
What types of cancer treatments cause skin changes?
All cancer treatments...