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Nowadays, the therapeutic innovations in the fight against cancer represent a great breakthrough in the prognosis of the disease and in the quality of life of the patients. However, the side effects of these therapies still affect the skin (facial and body). It is possible to prevent or improve these side effects through cosmetic care and the application of dermocosmetic products that will help improve the overall well-being of the patient.

How do cancer treatments affect the skin?

These types of treatments may lead to your hair falling out and your skin and nails undergoing some changes. In general, symptoms such as severe dehydration, cracks, fissures, irritation, acneiform eruptions, spots, inflammation and pain in supporting areas, etc. can occur.

Most patients treated with chemotherapy often suffer from dry skin, as these pharmaceuticals cause accelerated skin cell proliferation (the rate of skin renewal accelerates), inducing excessive fluid loss and leaving skin dry, flaky and cracked.

Radiation oncology also causes dryness and skin atrophy in the treated areas of the skin.

These alterations are mostly temporary and can be prevented or improved with some tips on cosmetic care in mind.

How to prevent side effects on the skin?

Cancer treatments can have very aggressive side effects on your skin; so when you are faced with an early diagnosis, it is important that you spend time taking care of your skin with good hygiene and deep hydration, which you can initiate three to four weeks before the first treatment.

What to do when your skin starts drying out?

To fight the increased dehydration during treatment, you will need additional hydration with the use of moisturising substances, emollients (substances such as urea, lactic acid..., which soften the skin) and products that provide components of the hydrolipid film that is lost (omega acids, epidermal lipids...), so that this selective barrier stays well hydrated, firm and healthier.

Protect yourself from solar radiation.

It is very common for chemotherapy to cause hyperpigmentation (spots on the skin). This hyperpigmentation cannot be avoided, but it can be alleviated, so that the spots are not as dark. To do this, you will need to use a sunscreen with full protection every time you expose yourself to solar radiation, even when it’s cloudy or the sun doesn't shine.

What products can or should not be used during cancer treatment?

When you receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy, you may become more sensitive to certain topical products that have never previously caused an allergic reaction. That is why it is very important to be clear about which products you can or which you should not use.

What can I use?

  • The smoothest and most neutral facial and bodily products possible.
  • Specific shampoos and soaps (which do not include any bland, chemical thickening agents, surfactants: SLES and SLS and the smallest possible amount of detergents).
  • Specific creams, very soft and moisturising, without perfume or dye or preservatives.
  • Your clothing should be loose and made from yarn or cotton; both are unaggressive materials and can relieve itching and other bothersome skin symptoms.
  • What should I not use?

  • Creams with glycolic acid and retinol as well as creams that help against cellulite or are firming, draining... can ultimately cause skin reactions.
  • Depigmentation creams to try to remove the stains.
  • Self-tanners
  • Attempt to avoid direct application of perfumes or deodorants to the skin in areas that were operated on or exposed to radiation.
  • Products with alcohol and glues.
  • Petroleum derivatives: silicones, mineral oils, vaseline... that function as insulators and do not allow the skin to breathe.
  • In the bath or in the shower, care should be taken not to rub the skin with sponges or brushes and never to exfoliate or use exfoliating products.
  • Do not get body massages during medical treatment (unless performed under medical prescription).
  • Never have lymphatic drainage except in the special case of lymphedema.
  • You cannot perform usual skin cleanses except skin oxygenation treatments applied by a specialist.
  • Wear tight clothing that causes chafing.
  • Avoid exposing the skin to any type of rubbing: by the use of chains, necklaces, watches, elastic rings, elastic bands, etc.

    When undergoing chemotherapy or radiation oncology, it is very important to put great effort into the hygiene of your skin. No matter your skin type, personal cleansing is essential for the effectiveness of the treatments.

    Dirt that builds up throughout the day on the surface of your skin is the ideal environment for the proliferation of microorganisms that can be a danger to your skin. This dirt prevents the proper functionality of the epidermis.

    Facial cleansing is therefore essential to do twice a day and no more, as it could end up being irritating.

  • One in the morning to remove excess sebum that is produced at night.
  • And another at night to remove makeup and traces of pollution that have accumulated during the hours of the day.
  • When it comes to bodily cleansing, showering is the best option. You should spend 5 to 10 minutes in the shower, at a temperature of 30 to 35°C with shampoos and specific soaps that allow for pulling the residues out of your skin without assaulting or irritating it.

    It is of the utmost importance to spend time on the hygiene of your skin, as the correct absorption of the moisturising products that you should apply for your care depend on it.

    Although we understand that you rely on the medical aspect throughout the oncological process, we think it is important that you dedicate some time to take care of and prevent the side effects that the treatments may have on your skin.

    What do we offer you in Clínica Áureo?

    A moment that is dedicated to you, in which you can disconnect and relax. Letting you pamper yourself by offering you our aesthetic care and specific products that your skin needs in those moments.

    We help you feel more comfortable in your skin. 

    Who will assist you:

    Eva Núñez

    Cosmetology & Patient care

    Susana Mateos

    Cosmetology & Patient care