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Although radiation therapy is painless, it does cause the skin in the treated areas to become very dry.  Changes in the skin occur gradually, usually within three to four weeks of the first treatment and vary from person to person. Due to these changes, your skin will need special care before, during, and after radiation therapy.  Skin changes if left untreated can lead to more serious conditions including infections. You may notice one or more of the following skin reactions:

  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Blistering
  • Redness
  • Darkening
  • Moist weepy areas

It is important to keep your skin in good condition by doing the following:

  • Begin two weeks in advance of your treatment to apply Aloe Vera gel on and around the area to be irradiated.
  • After radiation therapy has started, gently massage crème into the irradiated area three times a day, seven days a week.
  • Use lukewarm water and mild soap to wash the area.
  • Be mindful about the types of skin care products, deodorants, creams, and lotions that you may use on your skin. They can contain harsh chemicals that are not good for the threated area. Always check with your doctor about what you are using.
  • Use your hands or a soft wash cloth to gently cleanse the treated area. Do not rub the skin.
  • Rinse the treated area and pat it dry.
  • Wear loose fitting clothing made of natural fabrics such as cotton or silk.
  • Wear loose, comfortable undergarments.
  • Keep skin folds dry.
  • Avoid direct sun exposure, use a sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher. 
  • Avoid band aids, tape or medical patches.
  • Avoid perfumes.
  • Avoid heating pads, ice packs, sunlamps, and whirlpools.
  • Discontinue the use of deodorants containing any type of aluminum.

Your skin in the treatment area will remain sensitive and dry after your course of radiation therapy, so it still needs special care.  Remember to always protect your skin from extreme heat or cold, paying special attention to exposure to the sun.  Always use a sun block with a SPF of 15 or higher.  It is also important to avoid injuries to your skin that may be caused by chemical in cleaning solutions or solvents, cuts, and scratches or tight fitting clothes. Avoid sunlight for at least 1 year after treatment and always wear protective clothing over the treated area. Schedule an appointment with a skin specialist at the Image Recovery Centers® to discuss a plan that is appropriate for you.