Guide to Managing Your Chemotherapy Treatment: Skin, Nails & Hair

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Date: November 2012

>> During chemotherapy some skin changes such as dryness or rash may occur.  Use moisturizers and creamy soaps to keep your skin and cuticles soft.  In your guide, you'll find a list of various products that are considered mild enough for you to use on your skin. 

>> Everything from your head to your toes, you have to stay lubricated.  That's, that's what I've learned in this three years, you have to stay lubricated.  Shea butters and Shea oils or cocoa butters and cocoa oils, they work really, really well.  

>> Wear sunscreen and protective clothing to minimize exposure to the sun.  Fingernails may also change, becoming brittle, dry and cracked and may lift up from the nail bed.  File rather than cut your fingernails. 

>> It's more of a softer nail than normal and anytime you bump it or touch something then it starts to break, you go to peel it back to try to, you know just get it, but other than that if you keep them short, you have no problem. 

>> With chemotherapy you may experience partial or total hair loss, this is usually temporary and there are resources to help in caring for your appearance.  Visit the volunteer beauty and barbershop for wigs of all colors and sizes, head coverings, scalp treatments, skin care, and makeup tips. 

>> I was standing at work one day and head just started to itch, and I would touch my head and when I would touch my head, hair would fall out in my hand.  So I contacted my stylist and I said let's just go ahead and do it, so we shaved my head.  It was tough, it was tough.

>>This is the third time I've been bald through all of this so in three years, this is the third time I have been bald.  I love it.