A short guide on how to take care of your skin, hair and nails after cancer treatment.

A short guide on how to take care of your skin, hair and nails after cancer treatment.

PARIS, August 26 (EDIZIONES) –

Cancer treatments can cause fatigue, nausea and vomiting, as well as other side effects. They can affect a person’s skin, hair, and physical appearance. These side effects are less important from a clinical point of view, but they are just as important for the patient’s quality of life during this difficult process.

Dr. Alba Català is a dermatologist at the Teknon Medical Center and an expert in skin care for people with cancer. In an interview with Infosalus, he points out that although side effects vary depending on the type of cancer treatment, in general dryness, rashes and skin irritation may occur.


It is therefore important, according to him, to use products that do not contain alcohol (perfumes, deodorants, etc.) to minimize dryness and prevent irritation. In the specific case of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, it is said that if skin dryness appears, it is fundamental to to ensure proper cleansing and hydration:

For cleaning lukewarm water and ph-neutral syndet soaps.

For moisturizing use moisturizing body creams for dry skin, once or twice a day.

Other precautions: Avoid sponges; don’t scrub your skin too hard when drying off.avoid facial and body scrubs; avoiding chemical depilatories (eg hair removal creams); avoid facial cleansing.

According to Dr. Català, dark spots (hyperpigmentation) are another of the problems that can appear on the skin.The sun can promote the appearance of spots, especially if one of the drugs produces photosensitivity. (i.e. it contributes to increased sensitivity to the sun). Although there are depigmenting creams that reduce the spots that appear on the skin, they should not be used without first consulting a dermatologist.

To prevent or reduce stains, the Centro Médico Teknon specialist insists that the most important thing is to do not expose yourself to the sun and always use a 50+ photoprotector on areas exposed to the sun.. “Also, it helps to wear a hat and protective clothing,” she adds.


If you receive a radiotherapy treatment the dermatologist maintains that it is can cause alterations similar to sunburn.which are limited to the irradiated area. Subsequently, after two to three weeks of treatment, a red color (erythema) appears.

“If the treatment is prolonged, this area of ​​the skin acquires a dark color which will disappear a few months after the end of the treatment”, he underlines. With all this it provides the following skin care tips for patients undergoing radiation therapy:

Avoid necklaces, ties, rubber bands or rubber bands in the irradiated area, as they can irritate the skin by friction; wear loose clothing made of natural fibres, such as cotton or yarn, as these materials are not very harsh on the skin.

Completely protect the irradiated area from the sun for at least one year after treatment; if you must be in the sun, use full sunscreen.

Avoid epilating in the irradiated area, the hairs in this area will be weakened by the radiotherapy.

Avoid tattooing in the irradiated area.

Most of these effects are temporary. However, the irradiated area may not return to the look and feel it had before treatment. If during treatment you notice significant tenderness or a change in the skin that is not what you are told is normal, you should let your radiation therapist know so they can offer you the most appropriate treatment. adds Dr. Alba Català, dermatologist at Centro Medico Teknon.


On the other hand, this specialist points out that hair loss is one of the most common symptoms (but not always) as a consequence of cancer treatment; an effect that can also cause great psychological discomfort.

“Chemotherapy weakens the hair all over the body, whereas radiotherapy only affects the treatment area. In the case of chemotherapy, hair loss is a reversible process. The hair regrows after the end of the treatment. In the case of radiotherapy, it will depend on the dose administered, although in most cases hair does not grow back in the irradiated area,” explains the expert.

Thus, and in the case of partial hair loss following treatment, this doctor maintains that, although it all depends on the specific medication received, a symptom that generally appears associated with treatments is the weakening of hair, which can also produce slow but continuous hair loss. “It is important to take care of the scalp and its hydration”, he recommends, adding the following advice:

Avoid any type of dyebleaching, bleaching, highlights or perms, as the skin of the scalp is very sensitive and can easily become irritated.

Use a mild shampoo that does not irritate the skin of the scalp; you can use a moisturizing hair mask on the tips.

Protect your hair against external agents (sun, cold, air, etc.) using scarves, caps or hats that do not oppress.

Drink plenty of fluids, preferably waterand adopt a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to help maintain the quality of your hair.

In the case of total hair loss, as some cancer drugs not only weaken the hair but cause it to fall out completely, she explains that the resulting discomfort is partly due to a change in self-image. “If you don’t feel well in this regard, you can use a wig, a cap or a scarf, for example,” she says.


Finally, the Centro Medico Teknon dermatologist recognizes that nails can also be affected by oncological treatment and, concretely, it mentions that various alterations can occur, such as the appearance of horizontal or vertical bands, growth arrest, softening or thickening of the nail, etc.

“These alterations are a consequence of the treatment and are generally reversible. Do not use cuticle cutters, razor blades or other utensils that can cut the skin. Also, try to Avoid using semi-permanent nail polishes as much as possible. and harsh nail polish removers; nor false nails, as these products are aggressive and can worsen the condition of the nail. For more specific treatments, it is best to consult your dermatologist,” concludes Dr. Alba Català.

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