Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be coming to a close, but with it comes the reminder that there is room year-round to honor the innumerable stories and experiences of cancer survivors, thrivers, and warriors. A part of that is providing space to acknowledge that these stories don’t end when treatment does, and neither do some of the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. My youngest sister’s evening routine in the years following her remission status has included homemade remedies across the board: garlic rubs for her brittle nails, rosemary hair treatments to promote healthy hair growth, and an endless journal of ideas for what to try next. Meanwhile, my favorite aunt spent the entirety of my childhood in remission before receiving her second breast cancer diagnosis and being told she would have to do radiation and chemotherapy again.
There are so many puzzle pieces that come together for those supporting their physical and mental health while undergoing radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy, from navigating dietary changes to connecting with others on the same journey to figuring out how to nourish their skin. Osmia was created with a mission to energize people to engage with their wellness through skin health, because, as minimal as it may seem, there is agency in skincare and your choices can be empowering. Hopefully, this guide will help provide a simple and scrumptious skincare routine to care for your body with the unconditional love it deserves during treatment.
WHAT SKIN CHANGES CAN OCCUR DURING RADIATION THERAPY?
Radiation treatment has become far more precise throughout the years and not everyone who receives radiation treatment experiences the same level of side effects. Skin changes from radiation treatment, if they occur, generally begin to emerge one to two weeks into treatment and start to heal a couple of weeks post-treatment. Side effects from radiation can include dryness, itching, blisters, rashes, sores, peeling, cracking, and red, dark patches.
WHAT SKIN CHANGES CAN OCCUR DURING CHEMOTHERAPY?
Whereas radiation tends to be more precise, chemotherapy is considered a bodywide, systemic treatment. There are seven primary chemotherapy types used for different cancer treatments, so the side effects will vary depending on the drugs. Chemotherapy skin changes can include dryness, itching, rashes, peeling, swelling cuticles, photosensitivity, and red, dark patches. Areas where radiotherapy has occurred in the past can develop new blisters, redness, sensitivity, and peeling during chemotherapy treatment.
HOW SHOULD I TAKE CARE OF MY SKIN DURING CANCER TREATMENT?
While being open and vulnerable is often difficult, an ongoing and honest dialogue with your care team is essential for navigating changes as they occur. Below are a few simple changes recommended by the American Cancer Society to manage skin issues.
- Check in with your care team about the amount of fluids you should be drinking.
- Apply an alcohol-free and fragrance-free moisturizer multiple times throughout the day and immediately after showering.
- Shower or bath using only cold to warm water. Steaming hot water can irritate and dry out skin further.
- Avoid exfoliating and other abrasive wash clothes, loofahs, and towels.
- Wear loosing-fitting, soft cotton clothing to avoid further irritating the skin.
- Protect your skin while outside by wearing items such as hats, sunglasses, and long sleeve SPF shirts.
WHAT SKINCARE IS BEST DURING CANCER TREATMENT?
Restore Facial Serum
Your skincare routine can be a place of gentle solace while your body is undergoing so many harsh procedures. In choosing Osmia, you can savor your routine with the reassurance that our products are free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petrochemicals, ethoxylated ingredients, synthetic color, and synthetic fragrance. Whether you’re recently diagnosed, near the end of your treatment, or supporting someone on a cancer journey, our team hopes that these products and suggestions provide inspiration to curate a skincare plan to nourish yourself or a loved one during treatment—and for many years to come.
With love and energizing empowerment from us to you,