Tips To Manage Radiation Skin Side Effects
If you have cancer, then you will most likely need to go through numerous types of cancer treatments. One of these treatments is called radiation, and internal, external, or systematic radiation therapy may be scheduled based on the location and type of cancer you have. If your radiation specialist decides that external radiation is best, then beams of energy will be directed at your tumor. This type of radiation works to pinpoint the tumor, but you may experience some side effects across your skin after the treatment is provided. If this is bothersome to you, then find out about a few ways to manage the side effects.
Look For Thinning Skin
One of the most common types of skin issues that occur after radiation treatment is called moist desquamation. Moist desquamation is a specific radiation condition that appears when the skin is damaged severally in the area where the radiation beams are targeted through the skin. Radiation exposure causes the skin to thin, slouch off, and release fluid. The fluid is typically blood plasma that pools underneath the damaged epidermis.
Moist desquamation is most likely to occur if you go through numerous radiation treatments in a short period of time. If you need aggressive radiation therapy, then you may notice the condition. You will see skin thinning around the treatment area first, so look for this to identify the problem.
Moist desquamation can lead to fairly serious infections, so the affected area should be treated as soon as possible to reduce infection concerns. Treatment involves placing a cream called silver sulfadiazine over the area. This cream is a topical ointment that you should use several times a day, and it is sold as a medicine to treat second and third degree burns. Silver sulfadiazine is an antibacterial material that keeps infection at bay while also keeping the radiation area moist.
You will need to remove thin and loose skin gently before applying the cream, and you should do this with sterile gloves on your hands. You also may need to apply a dressing over the cream. This is best to protect the area from infection if a large amount of skin has been affected. Ask your radiation specialist about the best way to treat and protect the skin.
Eat Vitamin Rich Foods
Cancer treatments target the fast growing cells of the body. Since cancer cells multiply extremely quickly, this helps to kill cancerous tumors while leaving the healthy tissue undisturbed. Unfortunately, cancer cells are not the only ones that multiply quickly; so do the cells across the skin. This means the skin is affected by the radiation in much the same way as the tumor. Also, since energy beams move through the skin, the skin is damaged in the process.
You will see burns and blisters across the surface of the skin as the tissues are damaged. The tissue damage may be noted for some time and you may not see your skin healing. This happens because the skin cannot regenerate by the time you go through another round of radiation. Your skin requires a great deal of nutrition to regenerate properly. Vitamin C, E, A, and B are all needed to help your body rebuild new skin cells.
Your cancer treatments may leave you feeling nauseated, so it may be difficult to consume all of the vital nutrients that you need. There are some easily digestible foods that you can consume that can provide the vitamins. Eggs, fish, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and strawberries are a few good examples. You can also take a multivitamin daily. Speak with your general physician or radiation specialist to find out what is recommended.