Skin can be adversely affected by radiotherapy treatment, but there are a number of products that have been recommended to us by both oncologists and radiotherapy patients, which can help to ease these unpleasant side effects.
When and why is radiotherapy used?
Radiotherapy may be used in the early stages of cancer or after it has started to spread.
It can be used to:
- try to completely cure the cancer
- make other treatments more effective – for example, it can be combined with chemotherapy or used before surgery
- relieve cancer symptoms if a cure is not possible
- reduce the risk of the cancer coming back after surgery
- radiotherapy is generally considered the most effective cancer treatment after surgery, but how well it works may vary from person to person
Radiotherapy side effects on the skin
As well as killing cancer cells, radiotherapy can damage some healthy cells in the area being treated which can cause a number of unwelcome side effects, such as:
- sore, sensitive, dry, itchy skin
- aching joints and muscles
- loss of appetite
- a sore mouth
- upset stomach
Most side effects will pass after radiotherapy treatment stops, and thankfully there are a number of products that can be used to help during treatment.
Sore, sensitive, dry, itchy skin
One of the most common side effects of repeated exposure to the x-rays used in radiotherapy treatment is sore skin in the treatment area. Some people have no skin problems at all but others have very sore skin.
A skin reaction can make skin red, or darker in darker skinned people. It can also be sore, itchy, look like sunburn and it might peel and blister. Skin reactions don't develop straight away but tend to appear gradually throughout the course of radiotherapy.
Advice about skin care can vary from one hospital to another and it is always best to follow the advice of the radiography team, but in general it is advisable to wash skin gently with natural soap and water and gently pat skin dry.
We have sourced a wide variety of gentle skincare products that are especially suitable for radiotherapy skincare and have been recommended by both oncologists and radiotherapy patients.
Lindi Skincare is an American skincare range developed specifically for cancer patients. Lindi Soothing Balm is a rich, emollient, non-greasy lotion intended for extremely dry or compromised skin that can be caused by radiotherapy treatment.
Thanks to astaxanthin, avocado, olive oil and shea butter in its formula, Lindi Soothing Balm protects and moisturises, delivering hydration to even the driest skin.
Pharmaceutical-grade ingredients and rare botanicals make this the perfect gentle lotion to tackle dry, cracked and flaking skin.
Udderly Smooth Extra Care Cream with 10% Urea is often recommended by UK healthcare professionals for oncology related skincare.
It's a non-greasy, fragrance free, deeply moisturising cream which helps to prevent peeling and cracking of the skin, particularly during radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.
There are 2 different versions of Udderly Smooth but the Extra Care Cream contains 10% urea which is well-known for its hydrating, exfoliating and protecting properties.
MooGoo is an Australian company and MooGoo Natural Skin Milk Udder Cream is used in oncology hospitals and clinics across Australia as a moisturising cream for dry and damaged skin following radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
The formulation uses a combination of natural soothing oils, Allantoin and Aloe Vera, as well as Milk Protein to increase skin elasticity. It easily penetrates the skin with healing ingredients and is non-greasy.
Lindi Skin Cooler Pad has been specially designed to help soothe and relieve radiation burns and other types of compromised skin.
The reusable Cooler Pad provides on-the-spot cooling relief creating a moist, healing environment for compromised skin. Delivers moisture along with healing aloe vera and green tea.
The Lindi Cooler Pad gets rave reviews from radiotherapy patients suffering with radiotherapy damaged skin.
MooGoo Milk Wash
MooGoo is a natural skincare brand that develops products to help with lost of different skin and scalp problems. Their ingredient philosophy is to make effective products using healthy ingredients, meaning they are loved by many cancer patients.
MooGoo Milk Wash is made using natural skin conditioning ingredients that wash well without drying out the skin. It's so gentle it’s a no-tears formulation and is suitable for all ages, body part and skin types.
Organic Colloidal Oatmeal
Colloidal oatmeal is a centuries-old topical treatment for a variety of skin conditions, and more recently colloidal oatmeal has been clinically proven as beneficial for radiotherapy skincare.
Colloidal oatmeal can be added to warm bath water as a relaxing natural soak. Providing deep moisturisation it is a natural skin cleanser and can help to relieve itchy, dry, skin. It can also soothe inflamed skin from radiotherapy treatment and helps to lock in moisture and to create a protective layer.
Natural Unscented Soap Bar
Many patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment prefer to wash skin with a mild, un-perfumed soap.
This handmade bar of traditional, cold-pressed organic soap is as simple as it gets. Wonderfully gentle and moisturising, there is nothing extra added - no artificial colourings, scents or preservatives. Our organic, unscented soap bar contains just Organic Coconut Oil, Lye and Organic Cocoa Butter – that’s it!
Skin can become sensitive and sore when undergoing radiotherapy treatment and many patients choose to start using a natural deodrant.
MooGoo Deodorant is an aluminium-free, natural, roll-on deodorant. The unique, slightly alkaline formula, works by allowing perspiration (which is odourless) but preventing odour causing bacteria from growing. No bacteria = no smell.
MooGoo Deodorant is made with Milk of Magnesia and a light, fresh Lemon Myrtle scent and naturally preserved with Hops Extract. Free of aluminium, parabens, phenoxyethanol and over-powering essential oils that mask odour and can cause irritation. It is also Vegan friendly.
Himalayan Bath Salts
Himalayan Bath Salts are calming and soothing, moisturising and hydrating for the skin and have been used for centuries in beauty and Spa/Wellness treatments.
Himalayan sea salt is known for its detoxifying properties and contains over 80 minerals and trace elements that are beneficial for the body, including potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These minerals help to improve circulation, relax muscles, and detoxify the skin.
We have specifically sourced Himalayan Bath Salts with no added essential oils which could irritate skin that is sensitive from radiotherapy treatment. Our Simply Salts Bath Sachet is a blend of coarse and fine pink Himalayan Salts with nothing else added.
CancerPal stocks a range of products to help care for dry, sore and damaged skin from radiotherapy treatment. All of these products have been recommended by oncologists or those who have experienced radiotherapy treatment, however we do always recommend that you double check with your medical team before using any new skincare product.
CancerPal has also created a number of radiotherapy Care Boxes containing a range of products to help ease the symptoms of radiotherapy treatment.