Skin Care for the Cancer Patient

Cancer patients have special skin care needs because chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause damage to the skin.  Pruritis or severely dry, itchy skin and sometimes rashes or hives can be common for cancer patients. The nails and hair can become dry and brittle as well. Radiation treatments can cause pain, itching and inflammation on the skin.  If you experience skin issues, what can you do about it?

1.    Use products intended for sensitive skin. This is important especially in your choice of a cleanser. Handcrafted soaps are typically mild and moisturizing. Creamy, milky cleansers for the face that contain mild surfactants are usually a good choice. Don’t use peels or masks while undergoing cancer treatments.

2.    Use a good moisturizer. This is very important. I’ve seen it suggested that cancer patients use heavy oily creams on their skin but this is not really the best thing. Only water can provide hydration and products that are all oil cannot deliver hydration although they can provide protection. Patients sometimes express that because they are tired and their skin hurts it is hard to use a thick lotion.  I suggest using a thin but effective lotion or even a spray on lotion. Look for lotions that are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents as well as those that can support skin regeneration.

3.    Watch for skin problems. Cancer patients have a compromised immune system which means that abrasions and scrapes to the skin can more easily become infected. If you have a scrape, treat it right away. Calendula is a good ingredient because it can help regenerate skin cells. For this reason too, it is important to know that your products are well preserved. I’ve heard some less experienced crafters suggest that a skin care product for cancer patients should not contain a preservative, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is even more important that products marketed for cancer patients be tested for preservative efficacy to decrease the possibility of skin infections.

4.    Mist the skin. Using a Hydrating Mist on the skin can help provide moisture when needed as well as help with itching and inflammation.

5.    Take it easy with scents. Sometimes cancer patients become very sensitive to highly scented products and they can trigger nausea. Buy products that are scented very lightly or not at all. However, there have been some studies that indicate the scent of lavender can improve quality of life standards for cancer patients.

As a biochemist and former cancer researcher I am particularly concerned for the safety and well being of cancer patients. Our products are tested to ensure that they are free from potentially harmful bacteria/fungus. We use the mildest ingredients and very light scents along with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents to help heal the skin. We also have a lavender line of products that are used by many cancer patients.  If you have questions about the safety or usefulness of any of our products please let us know. For more information about reducing your risk for cancer see the American Institute for Cancer Research.