Managing Skin Reactions To Radiation Therapy

Managing Skin Reactions To Radiation Therapy

Some people who go through radiation therapy tend to develop side effects during the process and maybe discomfort after or towards the treatment. However, a few factors determine the number of treatment and radiation dosages a patient has to undertake. They include:

  • Size if the cancer
  • Type of the cancer
  • Location of the cancer
  • Other treatments that the patient is undertaking
  • General health

It would help if you always took health precautions while undertaking radiation therapy since it kills cancer cells and other healthy body tissues surrounding the affected area. Before treatment, contact your health specialist about any side effects of the treatment and how to manage them. Common side effects associated with radiation therapy include redness, fatigue, skin peeling, and swelling.

Managing Skin Reactions To Radiation Therapy

External Radiation Therapy Skin Side Effects

Skin changes on the cured area are the most common side effect associated with external radiation therapy. This creates a sunburn appearance, possible itching and redness, soreness, burning, darkening of the skin, and blisters.

The most common areas affected by this treatment include the area under the breasts, the armpit, and other places that the skin touches each other. In most patients, the skin color can last for a short while, and others can last for years or permanently.

Others may develop spider veins, well known as telangiectasia, which can last for months or years after breast radiation therapy. This effect can be bothersome as it creates an itching pain that can force you to be uncomfortable. If you experience this side effect, you can contact a dermatologist about treatments such as laser therapy.

If you have a connective skin disorder, larger breasts, or fair skin, you may experience severe skin side effects after radiation therapy. Other skin side effects include swelling in the breasts, armpit discomfort, skin sensation changes, and moderate to mild fatigue.

Tips to Manage Radiation Therapy

There are a few things that you can do to help your skin recover quickly after radiation and make it less sensitive during treatment. They include:


Before you experience any side effects, moisturize your skin with an ointment such as Radiacare or Biafane. Remember, if your skin becomes flakey or dry, cleanse it gently and moisturize frequently.

Wear Comfortable Clothes

Dress comfortably by wearing loose-fitting cotton shirts. And if there are raw areas, avoid wearing bras as they may aggravate the situation.

Take Precautions when Bathing or Showering

When bathing, use warm water rather than hot. Do let water flowing directly from the showerhead to hit your breast. Instead, let it hit your shoulder and pour down to the affected area. Replace strong, and fragrance soaps with fragrance-free soaps, especially soap made for sensitive skin.

Avoid Skin-on-Skin Contact

To prevent skin irritation and redness, avoid skin-on-skin contact resulting from pressure, moisture, heat, and friction. The best way to prevent skin-on-skin contact is to protect your arm from contacting your body, wearing a supportive bra, and placing a sift cotton or a piece of flannel under your breast.

Although most skin side effects fade away after the end of radiation therapy treatment, there are some situations that the skin will remain dark and sensitive than it was before. Before engaging in any therapy, talk to your medical personnel to know the side effects of therapeutic sessions and how you can manage them.