Avoid Anything That Could Cause Injury To The Skin In The Area Being Treated:
- Do not scratch your skin.
- Avoid using adhesive tape in the treatment area. If bandaging is necessary, use paper tape. Try to apply the tape outside of the treatment area.
- Use an electric razor if you must shave in the treatment area. Do not use a preshave lotion, aftershave or hair removal products.
- Do not use cornstarch or powders in the treatment area, especially in the area of skin folds as this can lead to fungal infections.
- Do not use heating pads, hot water bottles or ice packs on the treatment area.
- Practice sun safety, as exposure to the sun can cause more skin damage. Your best protection is to stay in the shade and wear protective clothing, such as long sleeves, pants, and a hat when outdoors. Avoid the sun during peak hours . If you are outside in the sun, wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 . Follow these tips in the winter months also!
- Do not smoke. Smoking has been found to worsen radiation related skin reactions.
- Talk to your treatment team before swimming, including chlorinated pools, hot tubs and non-chlorinated water .
Check the skin in the treatment area daily. Report any cuts, open areas or changes to your radiation oncology treatment team.
Possible Side Effects Of External Beam Radiation
The main short-term side effects of external beam radiation therapy to the breast are:
- Swelling in the breast
- Skin changes in the treated area similar to a sunburn
Your health care team may advise you to avoid exposing the treated skin to the sun because it could make the skin changes worse. Most skin changes get better within a few months. Changes to the breast tissue usually go away in 6 to 12 months, but it can take longer.
External beam radiation therapy can also cause side effects later on:
Be Extra Kind To The Skin In The Area Being Treated
- The skin in the treatment area will be more sensitive and can be harmed more easily.
- Keep your skin clean and dry.
- Wash skin in the treatment area with lukewarm water and a mild soap, such as Dove®, Neutrogena, or a baby soap. Avoid rubbing with a washcloth or bath scrubbies/sponges. Use the palm of your hand to gently wash the skin in the treatment area.
- Dry skin gently. Pat, don’t rub, using a soft towel.
- Moisturizing the skin can be helpful to reduce itching and soften the skin, making you more comfortable. Talk with your radiation team about which moisturizer you should use.
- Do not use make up or cosmetics in the treatment area.
- Do not use skin products that contain scents or perfumes.
- Radiation often causes the hair in the field of treatment to fall out. This is often temporary, though for some it may become permanent.
- If your treatment is to your head, use a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo, and try not to shampoo every day. In addition, do not use hot curlers or a curling/flat iron, and be gentle when combing or brushing hair.
- Wear loose fitting, soft clothing over the treatment area.
- Use gentle detergents, such as Woolite®, Ivory Snow®, Dreft®, or Eucalan® to wash your clothes.
- Avoid starching the clothes you wear over the treatment area.
Don’t Miss: Is Chemo Or Radiation Worse
Pain And Skin Changes
During and just after treatment, your treated breast may be sore. Talk with your health care provider about using mild pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to ease breast tenderness.
The treated breast may also be rough to the touch, red , swollen and itchy. Sometimes the skin may peel, as if sunburned. Your health care provider may suggest special creams to ease this discomfort.
Sometimes the skin peels further and the area becomes tender and sensitive. Its most common in the skin folds and the underside of the breast. If this occurs, let your radiation team know. They can give you creams and pads to make the area more comfortable until it heals.
Fatigue is common during radiation therapy and may last for several weeks after treatment ends.
Fatigue is mainly a short-term problem, but for some, it can persist .
You may feel like you dont have any energy and may feel tired all of the time. Resting may not help.
Regular exercise, even just walking for 20 minutes every day, may help reduce fatigue . Getting a good nights sleep is also important.
Talk with your health care provider if you are fatigued or have insomnia .
Learn more about fatigue and insomnia.
During Your Radiation Therapy
On the day of your first radiation treatment, youll start putting triamcinolone 0.1% ointment on your skin in the treatment area. This is a prescription ointment that will help protect your skin. Youll use it every day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This includes the days you dont have treatment. Your radiation nurse will give you more information about it before your first treatment.
Your radiation oncologist may also recommend using Mepitel® Film to protect your skin in the treatment area. If they do, put it on your skin in the treatment area before your first treatment. Keep it on until the edges start to peel up.
Youll stay in one position for about 10 to 20 minutes during each of your radiation treatments, depending on your treatment plan. If you think youll be uncomfortable lying still, you can take acetaminophen or your usual pain medication 1 hour before your appointments.
Read Also: Whats The Cure For Cancer
Expert Review And References
- Canadian Cancer Society. Radiation Therapy: A Guide for People with Cancer. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society 2005.
- Radiotherapy. Cancer Research UK. CancerHelp UK. Cancer Research UK 2009.
- Haas ML. Radiation therapy. Varricchio, C., Pierce, M., Hinds, P. S., & Ades, T. B. A Cancer Source Book for Nurses. 8th ed. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers 2004: 8: pp. 131-147.
- Radiotherapy. Macmillan Cancer Support. Macmillan Cancer Support. London, UK: Macmillan Cancer Support 2009.
Hair Loss In The Armpit
Radiotherapy to the armpit will make the underarm hair fall out on that side.
Men having radiotherapy will lose the hair on the area of the chest thats being treated.
Hair usually starts to fall out two to three weeks after treatment has started and it may take several months to grow back. For some people, hair lost from radiotherapy may never grow back.
When And Where Skin Symptoms Show Up
These types of side effects usually show up within the first 2 weeks of starting radiation therapy and may continue to develop throughout the treatment. Once the treatment is over, the skin will take a while to heal, but will eventually get better. The darkening, however, may last longer than that, up to several months. Sometimes there will be some lasting and permanent color changes.
Some areas of the skin may also react more than others:
- The skin in the upper inner corner of the breast, for example, may become more red or irritated than other areas depending on the angle of the radiation beam.
- The armpit can become irritated because the arm rubs back and forth against the skin there, and because of sweat and hair.
- Most bras rub on the fold under the breast, which can cause irritation and redness.
Some people dont experience any skin reactions to treatment, others have mild reactions, and still others may have more severe reactions. The risk of skin side effects increases if:
- You have a fair complexion.
- You have large breasts.
- Youve had recent chemotherapy.
- Youre receiving radiation after mastectomy, and the treatment is a high dose.
How Is Radiation Dermatitis Treated
Healthcare providers may recommend creams to ease symptoms like dry, itchy skin. They also may prescribe special creams to treat severe radiation dermatitis or radiation burns. For example, if youre being treated for breast cancer, your provider may prescribe a steroid cream to reduce your risk of developing radiation dermatitis. Talk to your provider before using any cream or other moisturizer. They will let you know what creams are safe and the best ways to use them.
How long does it take for radiation burn symptoms to heal?
Most mild radiation burn symptoms subside a few weeks after you finish your treatment. Ask your healthcare provider if your radiation therapy might cause delayed radiation dermatitis symptoms.
Will I need to stop radiation therapy if I have radiation burn?
No, most people dont need to stop radiation treatment because they develop radiation dermatitis. But your healthcare provider may adjust your treatment so your current symptoms dont get worse or so you don’t develop new symptoms.
Are there other steps I can take to help my skin heal or reduce symptoms?
Here are some ways you can protect your skin and ease your radiation burn symptoms:
Don’t Miss: Chemo For Pancreatic Cancer Stage 4
What Is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Radiation Burns And Wounds
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy makes it possible to minimize and even reverse your radiation burn or other wound symptoms. It uses 100% oxygen at pressures above regular atmospheric pressure to stream oxygen through your bloodstream.
Radiation triggers vascular changes that deprive the cells in your body of the essential oxygen they need to function and thrive. This oxygen deprivation plays a role in the development of delayed radiation injuries, which means that HBOT can reduce and reverse these health problems.
HBOT delivers the concentrated oxygen needed for wound care after radiation therapy. Pressurized oxygen dissolves directly into all of the bodys fluids so that it can thoroughly permeate the areas lacking oxygen after radiation.
Expert Wound Care For Radiation Burn Treatment
R3 is committed to fulfilling the need for high-quality outpatient wound care administered in a comfortable, comforting environment. Our advanced HBOT technology and highly skilled professionals deliver maximized results that improve your health and quality of life. And you do not need a doctor referral to start treatment.
Ready to explore the benefits of HBOT for radiation burn wound care, radiation ulcer treatment, or any other radiation injury?
Read Also: Radiation Exposure From Ct Scan
Hbot For Radiation Burn Treatment
HBOT is proven to optimize the pressure of tissue oxygen and is now used clinically in the treatment of chronic ulcers and radiation burn wound care.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy makes it possible to accelerate healing in your radiation wound. It uses concentrated 100% oxygen at pressures above regular atmospheric pressure to push oxygen through your bloodstream.
This essential benefit of hyperbaric wound care stimulates and supports the bodys own healing process. When white blood cells receive enough oxygen, they can effectively kill bacteria, reduce swelling, and allow the rapid reproduction of new blood vessels. HBOT even enables cells to build new connective tissue and improve organ function.
Prevention Of Radiation Dermatitis Or Radiation Burns
Nearly 90% of cancer patients undergoing radiation therapy experience radiation dermatitis. Unfortunately, patients have been told in the past that there is no consensus treatment option for preventing or managing radiation dermatitis. Thanks to advances in medical technology and keratin bioscience, new treatments for radiation dermatitis are possible. KeraStat® Cream is now available to help manage radiation dermatitis and its symptoms.
Also Check: Radiation Therapy Side Effects Breast Cancer
What Did You Do To Help Radiation Burn
After lumpectomy & lymph node removal I had 15 rounds or radiation in 3 weeks. At the end of treatment two weeks ago I developed a rash on my chest from the radiation. Its very red & itches like crazy, which makes it hard to sleep. Im using over the counter cortisone cream & Aquaphor for the dryness. Has anyone had success with other ways to treat this while waiting for it to heal? This site has helped me tremendously so thank you to everyone!
Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer group.
My friend used everyday during radiation treatment Aloe vera.
This might sound unlikely but castor oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Find organic, cold-pressed, untreated castot oil at many ‘health food’ and vitamin stores or Whole Foods.
Emu oil is very good for inflammations as well. It’s used in Australia for burns and I’ve seen it work amazingly well. Make sure, though, to get food grade pure emu oil just to be safe. It’s a thinner oil than castor oil and absorbs easily. I’ve seen it break down old burn scars of many years standing. A small bottle is in my travel first-aid kit at all times
I like aloe a lot but it made a very serious sunburn sting a lot while emu oil did not and actually seemed to cool the skin.
Change In Breast Shape Size And Colour
If youve had radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, the breast tissue on the treated side may feel firmer than before, or the breast may be smaller and look different.
Although this is normal, you may be concerned about differences in the size of your breasts, or worry that the difference is noticeable when youre dressed.
You can discuss this with your breast surgeon to see if anything can be done to make the difference less noticeable.
Don’t Miss: Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month 2022
How Does The Body React To Radiation Burns
High exposure to X-rays during diagnostic medical imaging or radiotherapy can also result in radiation burns. As the ionizing radiation interacts with cells within the bodyâdamaging themâthe body responds to this damage, typically resulting in erythemaâthat is, redness around the damaged area.
How Radiation Burns Happen
Radiation treatment kills cancer cells, but it may also damage healthy cells. Because external radiation needs to pass through your skin to reach the cancer cells, your skin may be affected. Changes, including burns, may happen if the skin doesnt have enough time to heal between treatment sessions.
Radiation burns, also known as X-ray dermatitis or radiation dermatitis, may start showing up about two weeks into external radiation treatment. These burns are common, but they tend to be mild and usually resolve within two months after radiation treatment ends. Burns and other skin changes may occur on and around the treated area, but nowhere else on your body.
Anyone undergoing radiation therapy may experience radiation burns, but they are especially common in patients undergoing treatment for certain cancers, such as head and neck cancers, breast cancer and cancers that form on or close to the skin, such as and skin cancer, including melanoma.
Don’t Miss: Cancer Center Treatment Of America Locations
Manage Radiation Dermatitis With Kerastat Cream
KeraStat® Cream is intended to manage dermatology wounds and skin toxicities. These types of wounds and toxicities can include radiation dermatitis that occurs as a side effect of breast cancer radiotherapy treatment. Federal law restricts the sale of KeraStat® Cream to sale by or on the order of a physician. If you are a patient undergoing radiation therapy or who is experiencing radiation dermatitis, consult with your doctor to see if KeraStat® Cream is a good option for you. KeraNetics is able to provide resources and educational materials for doctors and other medical professionals.
Management Of Acute Radiation
The treatments that were assessed for the management of radiation-induced skin reactions include topical steroid creams, nonsteroidal creams, dressings, and herbal remedies. No two trials evaluated the same agent or treatment, making it difficult to compare results. Only three of the trials showed a significant difference: one in favour of a corticosteroid cream, one favouring a nonsteroidal cream, and one for a dressing. However, all three of these trials were small and had limitations that prevent the generalizability of the results. The small number and large variety of trials make it difficult to draw any conclusions concerning the management of radiation skin reactions. A greater number of trials assessing treatments for radiation-induced skin reactions, especially moist desquamation and ulceration reactions , must be performed.
Read Also: Lupron Injection For Prostate Cancer
What Is Radiation Dermatitis
Radiation dermatitis or radiation burn is a side effect of radiation therapy to treat cancer. Each year, an estimated 4 million people in the United States receive radiation therapy, and more than 90% will have some form of radiation dermatitis or develop radiation burn.
Most radiation burn symptoms are mild and easily treated. An estimated 20% of people who receive radiation therapy may develop more serious symptoms that affect their daily life and may make them fearful or reluctant to continue radiation therapy.
Healthcare providers understand all the ways radiation therapy can affect people receiving cancer treatment. Providers and researchers continuously evaluate ways to limit and treat radiation burn.
Nerve Damage Around The Treatment Area
Scaring from radiotherapy may cause nerve damage in the arm on the treated side. This can develop many years after your treatment. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, pain, and weakness. In some people, it may cause some loss of movement in the arm and shoulder.
Speak to your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms.
You May Like: Can You Survive Ovarian Cancer
What Should You Expect During Hbot For Radiation Wounds
Hyperbaric therapy used to create an unpleasant experience using small chambers that felt more like coffins than medical treatments. However, todays HBOT technology is so advanced that its a relaxing and enjoyable experience especially when you visit a practice committed entirely to hyperbaric medicine like R3 Wound Care and Hyperbarics.
When you visit R3, you receive HBOT in a private setting with the latest hyperbaric technology. Your treatment takes place in a clear acrylic chamber where you can comfortably recline and view your surroundings at all times. Youll be able to hear and speak to your treatment team as they monitor your entire procedure.
Like most effective medical treatments, HBOT delivers optimal results through a series of treatments. The experienced team at R3 recommends sessions five days a week when possible, though its not required. Daily treatments help maintain high oxygen levels in the body and produce the best outcomes.