In the last several years, a variety of new cancer-fighting drugs have been developed to target specific parts of the body. Though, while they are helping cancer patients fight the battle, they also can create unwanted side effects to the skin, nails, and hair. The benefits typically outweigh the negatives, but these ailments can reduce quality of life and cause discomfort.
Cancer Treatment Side Effects to the Skin
Many patients who undergo cancer treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation, photo-dynamic, targeted, and biological therapies experience side effects such as:
- Skin irritations and redness
- Changes in fingernails and toenails
- Dryness, flaking, or peeling
- Sores or ulcers
- Swollen, puffy skin
- Darker skin or veins
- UV sensitivity
- Hand-foot syndrome
- Radiation recall
- Changes in and around the eyes
Reduce the Impact of Cancer Treatment Side Effects
To minimize the severity of cancer treatment side effects to the skin, nails, and hair, bring in a board-certified dermatologist right from the onset of treatment. Dermatologists can assist in creating preventative strategies to lessen discomfort and improve daily life during this trying time.
Sunlight Sensitivity During Chemotherapy
Some chemotherapies can cause photosensitivity, or sunlight sensitivity. It looks similar to a sunburn and can continue to be a concern even months after treatment is complete. To prevent this, avoid direct sunlight as much as possible, use lip balm with UV protection, and slather on sun screen with SPF 15 or higher. Where long sleeves and cover up as best you can.
Nail Changes Due to Cancer Treatments
Some cancer treatments cause vertical lines, darkening, brittleness, yellowing, or inflammation around the nails. It is recommended that nails be kept clipped and filed, and ingrown nails treated so as to avoid infection. Try not to wear shoes that put pressure on the nails as well. This will greatly improve day-to-day comfort.
Taking Care of Dry, Inflamed Skin
To reduce inflammation and avoid flaking, dry skin, take quick showers or sponge baths. Hot baths will do more harm than good. Then, apply cream or lotion without perfumes or alcohol while the skin is still moist. Gentlemen will also want to avoid aftershave and cologne, which contains alcohol.
For more information on ways to take care of your skin during cancer treatments, call us at The Derm Group at (973) 571-2121 or Request a Consultation. One of our board-certified dermatologists in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania can help create a strategy with your needs in mind.