Skin After Chemo [Problems & Remedies]

Chemotherapy is one way to treat cancer and other diseases using chemical substances. Afterward, it is crucial to care for skin after chemo, as we discuss in this article.

skin after chemo

How to Use Chemotherapy Cream

To use chemotherapy cream, wash your hands with water and soap. Use your fingers to apply a small amount to the affected skin areas. Lightly apply the cream to get a thin coat over the skin. You can also use an applicator if you do not want to use your fingers, but the applicator must not be metal.

Keep the cream away from your eyes, mouth, and nose if you are applying it to your face. Afterward, thoroughly wash your hands to remove every trace of the cream. Repeat the process for as many weeks as are prescribed by your doctor. The duration of the treatment will depend on the type of cancer and the skin condition.

Stay out from under the sun while using chemotherapy cream. Your skin is sensitive at this point, and sun rays will be extra harmful to it. But use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and wear clothes that cover your skin if you have to go out.

Do not hesitate to report to your doctor if you notice any adverse reaction with the use of the cream. The doctor is in the best position to verify the origin of the reaction and prescribe drugs that may counter the effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Chemotherapy Cream?

You may experience itching, pain, dryness, inflammation, burning, skin tenderness on the affected site, irritation, and swelling. Others include reddened or darkened skin, itchiness, and peeling that are symptomatic of dry skin. In more severe cases, you may become sensitive to the sun and have discolored skin or scars. This list is not exhaustive, as the effects vary by individuals. However, the side effects disappear as soon as you complete the treatment.

Not everyone experiences the side effects, so they are not as common as you would think. But there are steps to help minimize the chances of reacting to the cream, and some of them are:

  • Informing your doctor of any pre-existing health condition apart from cancer you are treating. Your doctor should also be aware of any medication you may be taking or applying before you start using the chemotherapy cream, no matter how mild.
  • Avoiding aspirin or any other medication containing aspirin. That is unless your doctor says it is okay to take the medication.
  • Keeping from getting pregnant while using the cream. While the skin does not quickly absorb such creams, they still slowly get into the skin and may affect the baby. Instead, use protection or contraceptives. This applies to both men and women. Your doctor will let you know when it is safe to conceive, but it must be after you complete the treatment.
  • If you are already pregnant, let your doctor know before commencing treatment. You will have to wait until after delivery before receiving the treatment.
  • No breastfeeding while undergoing treatment. Like getting pregnant and having the medication affect the baby, it may also affect the quality of the breastmilk.

Brown Spots on Skin After Chemo – What to Do

There is no known treatment for the brown spots that appear on the skin after chemotherapy starts. The brown spots are hyperpigmentation of the skin, and show up about three weeks after chemo starts. Sometimes, your skin may turn black due to hyperpigmentation, especially in dark-skinned people, but the discoloration is not a sign of cancer or complications.

The spots usually disappear after the treatment as new cells take the place of the dead ones; you will notice the change in about twelve weeks after the end of the treatment. But there is also a chance they will permanently remain.

Medical experts are not sure why the skin develops spots during chemotherapy, and not every patient experiences it. But there is a possibility that they develop due to inflammation or the stimulation of melanocytes. It is also possible that toxicity from the chemo agents causes hyperpigmentation.

Itchy Skin After Finishing Chemo – Remedies

Here are a few skincare tips to help alleviate itching after finishing chemo:

  • Keep your environment as cool as possible, as much as is within your power. It will soothe inflamed skin and reduce itching.
  • Use only hypoallergenic products when you bathe, shower, or do your laundry. Ensure you thoroughly rinse your clothes and bed linens whenever you wash them. That way, you are sure to remove soap residue.
  • Never use hot water when showering pr bathing. Hot water strips the skin of protective oils and is quick to cause irritation due to dryness. You can soak in an oatmeal bath or use bath oils if your skin is not broken. But ensure it is only tepid water, not hot or cold.
  • Keep the skin constantly moisturized to provide moisture and hydration. The chemo medications may be causing your skin to dry out, leading to itching. But lotions and moisturizers alleviate dryness and prevent itching. Apply the moisturizer immediately after showering to absorb moisture. But wash and moisten your hands if you want to apply the moisturizer in the middle of the day.
  • In addition to using moisturizers, drink a lot of water and other hydrating fluids throughout the day. Keep a bottle of water handy, so that you can sip it from time to time. Water improves skin hydration and suppleness.

You may have hypersensitivity to the chemotherapy medications. The itching may be accompanied by a rash, so notify your doctor or care nurse immediately you begin to itch or notice a rash.

If the itching is excessive, your doctor may temporarily stop chemotherapy and administer medication to reduce itching. Ensure you inform them of other medications you are applying or taking while undergoing chemotherapy. That way, they can determine whether or not the chemo is causing the itching or a combination of other drugs.

Once the itching and other symptoms of hypersensitivity are resolved, your doctor can resume administering chemotherapy. However, let them know as soon as possible if you begin to itch again.

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Skin Rash After Chemo – Treatment

Your doctor may recommend specific hypoallergenic soaps, lotions, and moisturizers to reduce the discomfort. They may also prescribe some medications to reduce the rash’s appearance and eliminate discomfort.

But a few home remedies speed up the healing process. Clean the affected skin area with water and soap, taking care not to scrub or use harsh soap. Use only warm water, and dry the area afterward.

Wear only protective clothing, whether or not you are going out. Keep them loose and breathable so that they do not chafe and irritate your skin. And if you must go out, use hats that shield you from sun rays. In addition, use all the prescribed medications when due.

Typically, the rash should clear within a couple of days, especially if you follow the care and treatment instructions. But see your doctor for an examination if the rash does not clear while taking the medication or if it continues to spread.

Chemo rash is a common side effect of the medications used in chemotherapy. It is usually an allergic reaction and may appear on any area of the upper part of the body. It is crucial to speak with your doctor and learn all the possible side effects before commencing chemotherapy.

Skin After Chemo for Breast Cancer – Changes

Chemotherapy for breast cancer will affect the skin in about the same way as chemotherapy for other types of cancer. So, you may notice itchiness and flakiness from the skin drying out, a rash, light sensitivity, hyperpigmentation, and even mouth sores.

In some cases, your skin will appear red, as if it is sunburned. The skin may even burn and tingle, akin to the sensation you get from sunburn. Each side effect has various remedies to alleviate them. But basically, you must care for the skin by showering using hypoallergenic products and using moisturizers. Apply a cold compress to areas that sting or burn. Keep your environment as cool as possible, and speak with your doctor for additional treatment for relief.

Flushed Skin After Chemo

Let your doctor know if your skin becomes flushed after completing chemotherapy. It may mean nothing, and will likely resolve over a few days. Certain drugs used for chemo tend to cause the skin to become flushed, which is the reddening of the neck and face due to blood capillaries dilating.

Facial Skincare After Chemo – Steps

Do the basic skincare routine for your face after chemo, and do not go overboard. Cleanse your face using light and hypoallergenic products for your skin type. Then, tone using the right toner. Some are too harsh for the skin and may be harmful. But note that some cleansers also tone the skin, so you may not have to buy a separate toner.

Finally, moisturize your skin with a water-based moisturizer. It is best if you apply the moisturizer when your skin is still wet. Your skin is better able to absorb the nutrients and retain moisture. But you should apply the moisturizer after the toner to soften and hold in the skin’s moisture.

Ensure you speak with your doctor before using any product, especially if you are still undergoing chemo or just finished the treatment. The same applies if you have other skin conditions or the treatment was to your neck and face.

It is important to note that the skincare regimen works for the entire body, not just the face. So, moisturize your body, even if you cannot cleanse or tone other areas apart from your face.

Skin Peeling on Feet After Chemo – Treatment

Keep your skin hydrated and moisturized as much as possible and avoid situations that warm your feet. They should be as cool as possible without being cold. It also means you cannot use hot water when bathing or showering, and you cannot wear tight-fitting gloves or socks. Finally, speak with your doctor to get medications to stop peeling on your feet.

Skin Turning Yellow After Chemo – What to Do

Yellow skin after chemotherapy may indicate liver damage. One other way to know is if you are jaundiced. See your doctors immediately after you notice your skin turning yellow. Inform them of any medication you may be taking along with the chemotherapy treatment.

Then, let them know if you have ever had problems with your liver or kidneys, as well as diabetes or heart disease. When you get a prescription for treating liver damage, ensure you take them as prescribed, and keep the drugs away from other people. Report any side effects and avoid alcoholic drinks and Tylenol.

Recap

Chemotherapy can be hard on the body and skin. You may have short or long-term side effects, but there are ways to speed up the healing process. Following your doctors’ instructions, use skincare products that make your skin after chemo better. 

Avoid harsh products; use only hypoallergenic ones. Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water and other healthy fluids. Above all else, stick to prescribed medications and do not hesitate to consult your doctors if you have any concerns.

Skin After Chemo – Frequently Asked Questions

1. Sores on Skin After Chemo – How to Treat

Let your doctors treat sores that may develop as a result of chemotherapy. Such sores tend to get infected or cause other complications. Therefore, it is crucial to keep an eye on them and clean them.

2. Skin Tags After Chemo

Skin tags are usually not part of chemotherapy. These tags are not harmful and do not lead to cancer. But they do not appear because of chemotherapy. If you notice skin tags after undergoing therapy, consult your doctor.

3. Does Your Body Recover After Chemotherapy?

Your body will recover after chemotherapy, but it may take months before it fully recovers. In some cases, it takes years to make a full recovery. Some people experience long-term changes, while others recover as they complete their treatment. A few have side effects that never go away. There is no specific time for recovery after chemo because different individuals have varying reactions to the treatment. But most side effects from chemotherapy are temporary.