How Long Does it Take To Get My Skin Back to Normal After Chemo?
Why is My Skin Still So Red and Irritated Even After Stopping Chemo?
Going through chemo is a huge event for your skin. Lots of changes, possibly new skin sensitivities, and weird things can happen to your skin, nails, hair, hands and feet.
Afterwards, getting your skin back to your previous normal is different for everyone. Everyone is different...and it will also depend on the type of chemotherapy you had.
Ironically, you may find that your skin gets worse before it starts to get better.
As your body rids itself of waste through your kidneys and liver, your skin is ALSO ridding itself of waste through your skin. Yes, your skin.
You see, your skin is an organ of excretion AND absorption. Whatever goes into your body also filters through your two internal organs and out through your biggest organ, your skin.
Since your body takes time to clear itself of the chemo chemicals you'll notice the prolonged rashes, irritations, redness, dryness, scalp issues and other annoying problems during this process. Stopping chemo will just be the beginning of your body's clearing process. ..and your skin will reflect this.
Your body may take as long as a year or more to purge itself of the chemo. And when it comes to strong medications, like what chemotherapy is, don't be disheartened if this take time. This is normal. Try to stay positive and remember that everyone else in your situation has had the same problems with their skin.
And there are excellent skin care products with an excellent reputation that help your skin feel comfortable, calm down the redness and irritation and don't burn your delicate skin. You can use these during and after chemo to help you feel and look more normal, more like yourself.
What Can I Do to Help my Skin?
There are a number of things you can do to help keep your skin healthy:
- Moisturise regularly, even if you do not feel your skin is dry
- Avoid harsh soaps and products for washing your body. Use a mild soap or shower gel instead. Hale and Hush's Quiet Wash is an excellent choice.
- If you have sensitive skin, try using an oil-free moisturiser or a lotion rather than a cream as this will help to keep the moisture in the top layers of your skin. Hale and Hush Soothing Essence or Hale and Hush Vital Lipids Lotion with a just a pinch of Hale and Hush Relief Bio Powder added to really put out the fire.
- Avoid perfumed products like deodorants and aftershaves because these can irritate your skin further. Moisturizers containing alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) are also very good at helping to clear up rough patches on the surface of the skin caused by the chemotherapy. Just remember to look for AHAs and BHAs to be far, far down on the ingredients list. You don't need more than 3-5% for it to work for you. Less is more right now.
- Try to avoid the sun as much as possible. Use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 and cover up with clothes, hats and sunglasses if you are going outside in the sun. You may find your skin is now sensitive to many sunscreens. Choose a ultra=sensitive, effective sunscreen like Hale and Hush Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen. If you have been told that your skin is particularly sensitive or burned easily, it may be worth seeing your doctor about having some phototherapy treatment after your course of chemotherapy has finished
- Avoid taking aspirin-based products such as paracetamol or ibuprofen because these can irritate the stomach lining and cause peptic ulcers.
- If you are having chemotherapy in the mouth or throat area, avoid hot drinks and spicy food as this can make your mouth sore. If possible, try to eat softer foods such as yogurt and mashed potato rather than crunchy things like toast or biscuits. You may find that eating smaller meals is easier than trying to eat bigger portions at one time. It might also be worth seeing if there is a dietician who could help with some advice on suitable foods for you
What Else Can I Do?
There are other treatments available which may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy treatment. These include:
Phototherapy or Light Therapy (also known as UltraViolet B (UVB) or Psoralen UV-A (PUVA) treatment) - this can be used to treat skin problems like acne, skin wounds, jaundice in babies, sunburn, psoriasis, eczema and mental health conditions like depression, sleep problems, and seasonal affected disorder (SAD).
This type of light therapy uses ultraviolet light from a special type of lamp to destroy the cells responsible for causing these conditions. This may help your skin get back to normal quicker after a course of chemotherapy. If you are not sure about having phototherapy, it is worth talking to your doctor or nurse because they will have more information on whether or not it would be suitable for you and how effective it could be in helping with any skin problems that might develop during your treatment.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) - this involves taking a drug called aminolevulinic acid and then having light treatment with a special lamp. This can be used to treat skin problems like psoriasis, actinic keratoses and some types of acne. It is important that you follow the instructions given by your doctor or nurse very carefully so that it does not cause any side effects for you.
What Else Should I Avoid?
Try to avoid things which may irritate your skin even more, such as:
- Excessive heat
- Too much time in the sun
- Hot and humid environments
- Sitting near a radiator
- Harsh soaps and body washes
- Regulars clothing detergents
Try using mild soap or shower gel and an organic and unscented clothing detergent instead. As mentioned above, if you have sensitive skin, try using an oil-free moisturizer rather than a cream as this will help to keep the moisture in the top layers of your skin. Avoid perfumed products like deodorants and aftershaves because these can irritate your skin further.
Harsh chemicals - avoid using strong household cleaning products or any other chemical which may irritate your skin. If you can, try to use natural products such as vinegar and lemon juice instead of bleach or detergents.
What About my Hair?
Many people find that their hair falls out during chemotherapy treatment. This is usually most noticeable within the first few weeks after starting treatment but it can continue for up to several months afterwards. It is normal for this to happen because the chemotherapy drugs damage cells in all parts of your body, including those responsible for growing new hairs on your head. It is important that you follow any advice given by your doctor or nurse about how best to look after your hair during treatment.
What Else Should I be Aware of?
It is worth remembering that a side effect of chemotherapy may not show up straight away. You may notice some changes in your skin within a few weeks or months but other problems could develop later on. For example, if you have had chemotherapy for breast cancer then you might find that the skin around the area where surgery has taken place becomes red and sore. This is more likely to happen if you have had radiotherapy as well. It is important that you tell your doctor or nurse about any changes in your skin so they can check it for signs of infection which may need treating with antibiotics
Any Products You Would Recommend?
This multi-award winning company who has developed an entire collection of highly gently and highly effective professional skin care products specifically for sensitive, reactive and compromised skin.
With 9 Oncology Certified Products, Hale and Hush will heal, hydrate and comfort your skin with their amazing products, giving you back your skin's hydration, comfort, and your confidence.
- 2017 Winner of DaySpa Professional Choice Awards,
- 2018 ASCP Skin Deep Winner
- 2020 ASCP Skin Deep Winner
New to Hale and Hush?
Cancer and Medical Institutions are already using Hale & Hush for their patients at the following location:
Providence Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center
Norton Cancer Institute
Virginia G Piper Cancer Center
Celio Cancer Center
The Dalles, OR
Living Well Cancer Resource Center
Rush-Copley Medical Center
Waterford Place Cancer Resource Center
Hale and Hush is:
- For Sensitive Skin
- For Health-Challenged Skin
- Corneotherapy Supportive
- 9 Oncology-Approved Products
- Intelligent Use of Organic and Sustainable Ingredients
- Chirally Correct
- Limited Scent / No Artificial Fragrance
- No Animal Testing
About Genna Pinnick
Genna holds a degree in Biology and an accomplished Concierge Esthetician currently serving Silicon Valley's high-power female entrepreneurs. In 1990, she earned the Premiere European Esthetics Certification of CIDESCO Diplomat in International Esthetics.
Since 1990, she founded and managed her own skincare clinic, growing it through referrals, newspaper, TV and Radio appearances, and as a guest writer in the local Health & Beauty section of the newspaper.
As an early member of the NCA's Esthetics America Education & Trends Team, she offered professional development at the national, state and local level, immersing herself in advanced training from such industry greats as Erica Miller, Robert Lees, and Rebecca James Gadberry.
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