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Caring for your skin after radiotherapy

If you are having radiotherapy, you might experience a number of changes to your skin. These changes can range from skin thickening and darkening, to burns and blisters.

There are a number of things you can do to help care for your skin during radiotherapy. The following tips have been shared by health professionals and women who have experienced skin problems as part of their radiotherapy treatment:

  • Apply a moisturising cream twice a day to the breast/chest area, neck and underarm. Only apply cream to unbroken skin. Look for a pure sorbolene or zinc based cream. In some cases your doctor may recommend you use a cortisone-based cream.
  • Avoid using soap and soap-based washes. Soap-free washes are much gentler on the skin. You can purchase these from a supermarket or pharmacy.
  • Avoid using very hot water when showering. Hot water dehydrates the skin and can leave it feeling dry and sore.
  • Gently pat your skin dry with a towel. Avoid hard rubbing and rough, abrasive towels.
  • If you need to use a deodorant, try an unscented variety for sensitive skin.
  • Whenever possible try to wear loose-fitting cotton clothes. Avoid tight fitting or synthetic clothes that may rub.
  • Try to avoid wearing an underwire bra.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid exposing the treated skin to direct sunlight.
  • Avoid massage to the affected area.

Skin care advice is variable. What works for some women may not work for you. It’s a good idea to ask your radiation oncologist or nurse for advice about caring for your skin.