Skincare in Cancer Care plays an important role in quality of life.
So much so that there is now a specific sub speciality – Onco- Dermatology.
As the largest organ of the body, the Skin goes through many changes during cancer treatment, from Chemotherapy, Radiation, Targeted Therapies, Stem Cell Transplants and Immunotherapy.
Medically induced rashes such as EGRF rash, steroid rashes, hyperpigmentation and Hand Foot syndrome can be problematic.
EGFR (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor) rash is sometimes referred to as Acneiform rash. It is the most common cutaneous side effect of EGFR inhibitors and effects 65-90% of patients.
It can appear on the Face, Scalp, Chest and Upper Back.
As you can imagine these skin related challenges can affect people both physically and psychologically. This is an opportunity to practice self-care. Getting plenty of rest, eating well and using nourishing, gentle products on compromised skin has been shown to help with healing.
Here is an example of before and after skincare treatment with a client receiving Tarceva.
We recommend the following skincare tips:
- Use lukewarm or warm water instead of hot water in your bath or shower.
- Pat your skin dry gently with a soft towel, don’t rub your skin.
- Apply cream or oil to your body while it is still damp.
- Use pH neutral skincare when possible. The skin’s pH is generally 4.75 – 5.75 so aim for products that have a pH of between 4 and 7.
- Avoid heavily scented and fragranced products especially those containing alcohol.
- Consider shaving less often, however when you do shave, use an electric shaver.
- Protect your skin from extreme temperatures with clothing or a balm.
- Use sunscreen and a lip balm with a minimum of 30 SPF if you are out and about.
- Wear natural cottons and loose-fitting clothing as they are less likely to rub against your skin and cause irritation.
- Wash your clothes in mild, fragrance free and dye free laundry detergent.
- Always use gloves when gardening or doing household chores.
- Drink lots of water every day. A slice of lemon in you water will ensure pH neutrality which is always good.
Examples of some safe and effective skin care ingredients:
|Aloe Vera||Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, Vitamin A & C|
|Arnica||Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Bacterial, Promotes Healing|
|Astaxanthin (Algae Extract)||Antioxidant, Anti-irritant|
|Avocado Oil||Anti-Inflammatory, Moisturizing, Nourishing|
|Bearberry Extract||Evens skin tone, Anti-Inflammatory|
|Bisabolol (Extract of Chamomile)||Anti-Irritant|
|Calendula||Antifungal, Anti-inflammatory, Antibacterial, Antiseptic|
|Chamomile||Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Fungal, Anti-Bacterial|
|Coconut Oil||Anti-Bacterial, Hydrating, Anti-Inflammatory|
|Cranberry Seed Oil||Antioxidant, Deeply Nourishing|
|Cucumber||Anti-Irritant, Reduces Water Retention, Vitamin C|
|Curcumin (Extract of Turmeric)||Wound Healing, Anti-Inflammatory|
|Echinacea||Anti-Inflammatory, Reduces Redness|
|Fucus Serratus||Improves skin elasticity, Anti-Irritant, Promotes Collagen Production|
|Frankincense||Anti-Inflammatory, May Improve Gut Function and Breathing|
|Grapefruit||Antioxidant, Promotes Skin Tone|
|Green Tea||Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Irritant|
|Heather Extract||Antioxidant, Anti-Irritant, Anti-Bacterial|
|Jojoba Oil||Anti-Inflammatory, Reduces Redness, Vitamin E+|
|Licorice Root||Antioxidant, Evens Skin Tone, Protective|
|Laminara Digitata (Seaweed)||Deeply Hydrating, Soothing, Natural Humectant|
|Malic Acid||Supports Collagen Production, Improves Hyper-Pigmentation, Moisturizing|
|Manuka Honey||Natural Humectant, Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Fungal|
|NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor)||Humectant, Helps Maintain Skin Elasticity|
|Oat Beta-Glucan||Strong Anti-Inflammatory|
|Olive Oil||Antioxidant, Hydrating|
|Pine Bark Extract||Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Regenerative, Protective|
|Portulaca oleracea||Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant|
|Red Raspberry Seed||Anti-Bacterial, Antioxidant|
|Rose||Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, High in Vitamin E|
|Rosehip Oil||Supports Skin Barrier Function, Protective|
|Rosemary||Antiseptic, Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory|
|Sea Buckthorn||Wound Healing, Antioxidant, Nourishing|
|Shea Butter||Moisturizing, Wound Healing, Protective|
|Turmeric||Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Cancer|
|Vitamin A||Antioxidant, Stimulates Collagen Production and Elastin|
|Vitamin C||Antioxidant, Brightening, Protective|
|Vitamin E||Antioxidant, Reduces UV Damage, Protective, Nourishing|
|White Birch Extract||Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Viral|
|White Tea||Powerful Antioxidant|
|Willow Herb||Anti-Microbial, Anti-Irritant|
|Witch Hazel Extract||Anti-inflammatory, Anti-Bacterial, Reduces Redness, Natural Astringent|
Many of the rashes associated with cancer treatment are in fact short term and the skin will improve when chemotherapy concludes.
EGRF rash body
Hand Foot Syndrome
Some Skincare companies have dedicated their resources, knowledge and passion to create safe and effective skin care products and wellness rituals to support people in active treatment for cancer and with a history of cancer.
Often it is asked what’s in these products that makes them so special, the fact is it’s what’s NOT included in the ingredients that make them safe to soothe, restore and hydrate compromised skin.
Irritants such as alcohol, phthalates, SLS, propylene glycol, artificial fragrance and added colours can be especially challenging for skin that has been exposed to cancer treatments.
There are many chemicals in skincare products and cosmetics that have been shown to be carcinogenic – Below please find some resources for your further review.