WELLBEING EXPERTS  /  SKINCARE / Top tips for your skincare routine

Top tips for your skincare routine

The two rules of thumb when it comes to skincare during cancer treatment are to be gentle and to protect your skin from sun exposure. Here are a few ways you can support your skin with small changes to your skincare routine:

  • Shower rather than bath as this is less drying for the skin.
  • Keep the water temperature lukewarm.
  • Avoid excessive scrubbing or exfoliating – it’s best to avoid loofahs, sponges, exfoliators and washcloths due to their rough surface – they may also carry bacteria.
  • Wash the skin gently and softly pat dry instead of rubbing with a towel.
  • Moisturise the skin whilst it is still damp and aim to moisturise at least twice a day.
  • Do not apply an oil before cancer treatment, only afterwards.
  • Always protect your skin from the sun using sunscreens with an SPF of 30+ and a five star UVA and UVB rating.
  • Consider shaving less often. When you do shave, ideally use an electric shaver and avoid waxing.
  • Continue to use normal deodorant (unless this irritates the skin) but discontinue if the skin is broken.
  • Gently moisturise the skin by applying balms and oils in the same direction that your hair grows.
  • Use a lip balm daily from the start of your cancer treatment.
  • Moisturise your hands after you wash them – even if you’re cleansing with hand sanitiser.
  • Look at incorporating Red Light Therapy into your regime. There is evidence to suggest that it helps accelerate wound healing and significantly reduces healing time in radiotherapy patients.

Top tip: Massage an oil such as coconut oil (recommended as it also has antibacterial properties) into the skin before showering – this helps protect and maintain the skin’s natural oils.

BY MARIAN HOOK

References

Cancer Research UK
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/skin-problems/dealing-with-itching/tips

Cancer Care
https://www.cancercare.org/publications/76-caring_for_your_skin_during_cancer_treatment

Duffy R, Jennings T, Sahu J. Gentle skin care guidelines for patients with mycosis fungoides. Chin Clin Oncol 2019,8 (1): 14.doi:10.21037/cco.2018.10.04
https://cco.amegroups.org/article/view/22064/html

Sheffield Hallam University 2020
https://shura.shu.ac.uk/26246/1/2020_version_4_final_practice_guideline_radiotherapy_skin_care_llv1.pdf

Application of red light phototherapy in the treatment of radioactive dermatitis in patients with head and neck cancer
https://wjso.biomedcentral.com/counter/pdf/10.1186/s12957-018-1522-3.pdf

Light therapy fast-tracks healing of skin damage from cancer radiation therapy
https://www.buffalo.edu/news/releases/2022/01/029.html

Additional Information

https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/

https://www.breastcanceruk.org.uk/reduce-your-risk/chemicals-and-environment/

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/general-info/known-and-probable-human-carcinogens.html

Meet our other wellbeing experts