There are many challenges cancer patients face throughout their treatment including appearance related side effects. These simple do’s and don’ts can help you deal with any hair, skin, or nail changes you might experience.
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- Be gentle with your skin: Use products made for sensitive skin or specialty products made for individuals going through cancer treatment. Also try to wear non-irritating fabrics and drink plenty of fluids to keep your skin hydrated.
- Moisturize: Take lukewarm showers to help keep your skin moist. In addition, use moisturizer after your shower while your skin is still damp. Use a “noncomedogenic” moisturizer (a moisturizer that won’t clog your pores) at least twice a day.
- Shield from the sun: Some cancer treatments may make your skin more sun sensitive. When you are outside, make sure to wear a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirt and long pants to help protect your skin from the sun.
- Treat any skin rash: During treatment, you can develop an acne-like rash on your skin. Your doctor can prescribe medication that can help alleviate the rash. Ask your doctor about medication if the rash is painful or itchy.
- Wash mildly: Use mild soaps and shampoos, as your scalp may be sensitive. Pat gently with a dry towel and use a wide toothed comb to comb your hair.
- Use hot water: Hot water can dry out your skin, making it difficult for your skin to stay looking healthy.
- Scratch or scrub: This will cause your skin to become irritated. Pat-dry your skin after showers.
- Use hot or cold packs: Unless your doctor says it’s okay, avoid using hot or cold packs on your skin.
- Bite your nails or use fake nails or wraps: Your nails will be more brittle during treatment; avoid using any fake products to insure that your nails stay in the best condition possible.
- Use perms, dyes, and exposure: Your scalp may become red, itchy, flaky, or dry. Avoid using coloring on your hair or getting a perm. Remember that your scalp is more sensitive, so be careful with exposure to the sun or cold.
- Use curling irons or heated dryers: If you choose to use a wig during treatment, remember that they are very flammable. Keep away from ovens, stoves, irons, and dryers.
If you find these tips helpful, and are struggling with your appearance during cancer care, one of our nurse navigators or social workers can help connect you with local resources that can help.