With increasingly advanced technology and innovative solutions being brought to the forefront everyday, cancer remedies are constantly being refined and developed to better suit patients. Chemotherapy is still one of the most effective and oft-used treatments for cancer.
Unfortunately, chemotherapy is not without its side-effects, and patients often report skin changes during and after chemotherapy. Patients look for relief and methods to cope with their symptoms – and we at CamWell have made it our mission to deliver safe, oncologist-formulated skin care products for cancer patients.
Skin Changes During and After Chemotherapy: Why?
Your skin is the body’s natural first line of defense against the outside world. But did you know that certain cancer treatments can cause changes to your skin? Some of these changes can be nothing more than cosmetic annoyances, but others may require attention from your doctor or healthcare team.
These skin changes can occur for various reasons, but in the case of chemotherapy specifically, the reasoning is clear. Chemotherapy helps fight cancer by targeting specific molecules inside of tumors. Unfortunately, these same molecules also exist in our hair, skin and nails – as a result, patients may experience side-effects from their treatments.
Fortunately, there are plenty of precautions patients can take to help minimize or reduce the side-effects of their skin changes during and after chemotherapy.
Common Symptoms Associated with Skin Changes During and After Chemotherapy
It’s important to remember that each patient’s situation will differ from the last – every individual diagnosis varies and it’s important to consult your doctor or healthcare team at the first sign of experiencing any sort of changes or discomfort. A small itch or pain can often be the first sign that a skin condition is developing.
Most skin changes listed here are not permanent and can improve after treatment has ended, however it’s still best to notify your doctor of any changes you may be experiencing.
Some of the most common skin changes during and after chemotherapy include:
Rashes – Rashes are a common side-effect associated with chemotherapy, patients may experience inflammation that appears to look like acne. Interestingly enough, not every rash may be considered negative – research has shown that certain rashes correlate with having better tumor response to treatment. Patients don’t always realize the cause and effect relationship between various treatments and skin conditions. For example, radiation skin burn is similar to a sunburn, but is different than a skin rash induced by chemotherapy.
Dry/Itchy Skin – Patients may experience cracking of the skin and itchiness, specifically at or around the area they’ve received treatment.
Light Sensitivity – Some types of chemotherapy may make your skin more sensitive to light. This is known as photosensitivity, and can leave the skin more susceptible to sunburn.
Hyperpigmentation – Hyperpigmentation results in dark patches developing on the skin or an overall darker skin color. Typically these dark patches occur around joints or along the vein used to administer chemotherapy treatments.
Pressure Ulcers/Bedsores – This symptom is usually caused by consistent pressure on one area of the body – often developing on the heels of the feet or the tailbone.
Other minor symptoms can include redness, peeling, and an overall sense of discomfort.
Caring for Minor Skin Changes During and After Chemotherapy
There are plenty of steps patients can take to help cope with the symptoms of their skin care changes – maintaining a high-quality of life throughout their treatment.
First and foremost, a natural healing skin cream for cancer patients may help care for these minor symptoms. CamWell’s skin care products for cancer patients offer a safe, non-toxic, oncologist-formulated option for patients to cope with their condition.
Specifically, CamWell’s Hand to Heal skin cream for cancer patients delivers gentle, powerful skin relief – only a 3mm diameter application is required each time the product is used. Herb to Soothe offers a host of benefits for patients, including:
- Soothing and healing of itching, painful radiation areas
- Relief of pain, tenderness, and itchiness
- Calms inflammation
- Hydrates severely dry skin
- Protects skin against infection
- Maintains beautiful, healthy skin throughout treatment
In addition to utilizing skin cream for cancer patients, the following precautions can be taken to minimize the severity or presence of side-effects:
- Stay out of direct sunlight, and if you have to be in the sun be sure to use protection
- Avoid tanning beds
- Wear loose, non-restrictive clothing
- Place a cool, wet cloth where skin is irritated
- Wear clothes made of cotton or other soft fabrics
Severe Conditions Associated with Skin Changes During and After Chemotherapy
Certain conditions associated with skin changes during and after chemotherapy require the attention of the patient’s doctor or healthcare team. Major skin changes should be treated as soon as possible, as some can cause long-term damage. If you are unsure which category your changes fall into, it’s best to consult your medical team.
What is Radiation Recall?
Radiation recall is a severe skin condition that develops during treatment or sometime after treatment – in some cases the condition can occur several weeks or months after treatment has stopped. Typically, radiation recall presents itself on the area of skin where radiation was administered.
The condition is poorly understood as of now, but increased awareness can help aid early diagnosis and appropriate management of symptoms.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute’s Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE) classifies radiation recall into four stages of severity:
Stage One: Faint reddening of the skin and/or dry peeling
Stage Two: Moderate reddening of the skin accompanied by patchy, moist peeling
Stage Three: Prevalent moist peeling, bleeding induced by abrasions or trauma
Stage Four: Skin necrosis or ulceration of skin, spontaneous bleeding from site
Symptoms of Radiation Recall
Radiation recall presents itself as a rash that appears like a severe sunburn. As a result, the patient’s skin may blister, peel, or feel exceedingly painful. Let your doctor or healthcare team know as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Wet sores
- Peeling skin
- Discoloration of skin after it has healed
Caring for Symptoms of Radiation Recall
Of course, the first step when dealing with any symptom associated with radiation recall is to notify your healthcare team. Aside from that, patients may take measures at home to help them cope with their symptoms
Oftentimes, the itching and painfulness associated with radiation recall is so powerful that patients may not be able to sleep. In this case, patients need fast, effective relief from their symptoms.
CamWell’s Herb to Soothe cream for radiation burns provides the relief others do not. This solution is in addition to is our other product called Hand to Heal that many believe is the best moisturizer for Chemo. Specifically, one of the most important factors separating CamWell from the rest of the pack are the individualized lotions for radiation recall and painful itchy rash caused by chemo. This is important, as the mechanism of action regarding radiation therapy and chemotherapy is different.
The Herb to Soothe formula is oncologist-formulated and powerful – only a thin layer is needed on the affected area to achieve fast relief from painful radiated areas.
Symptoms of Hand-Foot Syndrome
This is another severe skin condition that occurs as a result of chemotherapy treatment. Following the administration of chemotherapy, small amounts of the drug can leak out of the capillaries in the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. When your hands and feet are exposed to heat or friction, the amount of drug present in the capillaries increases – which in turn increases the amount of drug leakage.
This condition can range from moderate to severe, with different symptoms presenting themselves in both situations. As always, it’s of the utmost importance to notify your doctor or healthcare team if you find yourself dealing with any of the following symptoms:
- Redness of the skin, similar to a sunburn
- Tingling or burning sensations
- Tenderness or increased sensitivity
- Tightness of the skin
- Thick calluses and/or blisters on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet
In more severe cases, patients may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Cracked, flaking or peeling skin
- Blisters, ulcers or other sores
- Severe pain
- Difficulty walking or using your hands
Caring for the Symptoms
The first, and most essential step in dealing with hand-foot syndrome is notifying your healthcare team of any changes you may be experiencing – severe skin issues left untreated can lead to long-lasting damages.
Of course, some symptoms can be cared for by patients themselves. CamWell’s Hand to Heal lotion is specifically formulated by oncologists to help cope with the most common Hand-Foot syndrome symptoms. This moisturizer is non-toxic and powerful – only a thin layer is needed with each application to achieve quick relief.
The effects can interrupt daily living for so many patients – a challenge we at CamWell take to heart. We’ve made it our mission to help patients cope with skin changes and help them achieve a better quality of life. The Hand to Heal cream is designed to aid in calming and comes with a plethora of other benefits, including:
- Hydrating severely dry, cracked skin
- Calming inflammation
- Relief of pain and tenderness
- Protection of the skin against infection
- Heals skin cell damage linked to numbness and tingling
Additionally, each component of the Hand to Heal formula is sourced and selected by our expert team. Each cream is hypoallergenic and contains no harsh chemicals, no artificial colors, no artificial fragrances and no added steroids.
The effectiveness of the CamWell Hand to Heal formula has also been tested in randomized trials, and has been shown to aid in coping with these symptoms that we have discussed.
Aside from caring for your symptoms with a CamWell product, patients can take certain preventive measures that may help reduce the severity of symptoms:
- Avoid long exposure of the hands and feet to hot water (washing dishes, taking showers, etc.)
- Take shorter showers in lukewarm water
- Do not wear dishwashing gloves, as the rubber will trap heat against your palms
- Avoid tasks that involve increased pressure on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands, such as using a screwdriver
There is plenty of reason for optimism and hope, even if you find yourself dealing with some of these conditions and symptoms. We at CamWell feel an immense amount of pride in being able to help patients achieve a better quality of life through the use of our oncologist-formulated creams. A more comfortable standard of living is within your grasp!
A quick note: if you’re a care provider researching this topic for a friend or loved one, please consider our chemo patient gifts as a helpful way to show your support. This gift package contains the moisturizer discussed in this article, with additional items designed to also provide much needed emotional support.