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Chemotherapy and the Skin

How to Treat

According to a yearly report from the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that nearly 1.7 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in 2016. There were approximately 596,000 cancer deaths. Although mortality rates are going down for many cancers, these numbers are still staggering. With these statistics, it becomes increasingly likely that some of our patients will undergo some type of chemotherapy. As we know, chemotherapy is necessary to eradicate various types of cancers, but it undeniably wreaks havoc on the skin. As the largest organ of elimination, the skin of those undergoing chemotherapy has an overwhelming task. In addition to simply trying to process the drugs that are introduced into the body during these necessary treatments, the skin is also reacting to the unavoidable increase in emotional stress that a cancer diagnosis will cause.

Different cancers necessitate varying combinations of chemotherapeutic drugs. Each combination comes with its own risks of side effects. The skin of those going through chemotherapy becomes extremely stressed.

Common dermatological side effects of treatment

  • sensitivity or allergic reactions
  • severe dryness
  • flushing
  • hyperpigmentation
  • photosensitivity
  • rashes
  • folliculitis, an acne-like skin rash

Through good skincare, we can help these patients look and feel better. It is wise to select skincare products that do not contain synthetic fragrances, colors, or other known sensitizers and irritants to avoid instigating any reactions. Peels should be avoided during the course of chemotherapy, except Detoxifying Pore Treatment for acne breakouts/folliculitis. Cancer patients should consult their oncologist prior to beginning any new regimens.