How cancer treatment affects the skin (& tips to reduce discomfort)
Changes to skin during cancer treatment
There are many different drugs for treating cancer. And everyone reacts to them in different ways. Whether someone experiences changes to their skin will depend on the combination of drugs they’re having. As well as the dosage they’re taking.
Skin problems during cancer treatment are most common with chemotherapy drugs or biological therapy drugs. While attacking a tumour, the drugs also attack the skin, nails and hair.
Skin becomes far more sensitive, dry or itchy. And particularly reactive. If they’ve recently had treatment, at times it can hurt when a cancer patient gets into a warm bath.
“It can hurt when a cancer patient gets into a warm bath.”
“Skin problems during cancer treatment are most common with chemotherapy drugs or biological therapy drugs.”
Caring for skin during cancer treatment
People with cancer often need to steer clear of regular beauty products. As the side effects of cancer treatment may mean you need to care for your skin differently than you did before.
For example, products containing perfumes or chemicals can dry your skin further and cause irritation. Soap may strip your skin of its moisture. And any sunburn can emphasise the soreness.
Taking a stand for cancer patients
It’s this real need for products that soothe skin and reduce discomfort that led Jennifer Young to take a stand for cancer patients. Jennifer is a nutritional therapist, microbiologist, aromatherapist and beauty therapist.
“The chemo ward at my local hospital ward called to ask if I had any skincare products for cancer patients”, she recalls. “And I didn’t. Because I hadn’t appreciated the skincare challenges people with cancer face.”
“I hadn’t appreciated the skincare challenges people with cancer face.”
A collection of natural products for cancer patients
Jennifer visited the chemo ward and realised there was nowhere for patients to go for information and products. She worked with the hospital to develop the Defiant Beauty range. It’s a collection of natural products developed specifically with cancer patients in mind. And effective for those struggling with chemo skin. As well as for those whose skin has been damaged by radiation treatment.
“It’s effective for those struggling with chemo skin. And on skin that’s been damaged by radiation treatment”
Jennifer works closely with cancer patients. And helps them to look and feel fabulous inspite of their cancer. Her most memorable call was from a lady called Emma, whose treatment was having a severe effect on her skin.
“The skin around Emma’s nails was especially sore. And it was painful to fasten the poppers on her daughter’s baby grows”, she shares. Jennifer used the photographs Emma shared with her to develop a new product called ‘Emma’s Miracle Balm’. For Emma, dressing her baby daughter soon became pain-free.
“The skin around Emma’s nails was especially sore. And it was painful to fasten the poppers on her daughter’s baby grows.”
If your skin is suffering from the side effects of cancer treatment, you may find the following tips helpful
Tip 1: Only use natural products. Products with chemicals and perfumes can irritate the skin.
Tip 2. Moisturise regularly, avoiding products that contain alcohol.
Tip 3. If you lose your hair, wear a hat or apply suncream to protect the sensitive skin on your scalp.
Tip 4. Look after the nails on your fingers and toes by using a natural oil or moisturiser to prevent them from flaking.
Tip 5. From the beginning of cancer treatment, use a lip balm daily to prevent chapped lips.
Tip 6. Soap can dry your skin out further. Try using a cleansing balm instead.
Tip 7. For skincare advice or questions about Defiant Beauty products, contact Jennifer Young’s enquiry line on 0800 999 8518.
Tip 8. Charity Look Good Feel Better (LGFB) runs free UK-wide skincare and makeup workshops for cancer patients.