Skin care routine dos and don’ts for cancer patients

Cancer is not the end of life and many types of cancer are curable these days. If you are going through cancer treatments, you may have many questions about the skin care routine for cancer patients. What you are reading below is the advice of two dermatologists about the products you should use and the tips you should consider to maintain skin health.

Why is skin care important when you have cancer?

Cancer treatments have many side effects, and one of them is the changes that occur in the skin. This is the reason why some brands of cosmetic products produce special products for cancer patients and have dedicated a line of their products exclusively to the skin care routine for cancer patients.

Dermatologist Dr. Justin Hextall says that dryness, itching, burning, skin sensitivity, and inflammation around the nails are just a few of the side effects of cancer treatments that can be painful and annoying. Many people who are being treated for cancer with methods such as chemotherapy have reported these symptoms.

In a study that was conducted with the participation of 27 people with cancer and undergoing treatment, 4 out of 5 people reported some kind of skin side effects. Unfortunately, some patients leave their treatments unfinished due to the severity of side effects.

If you also have cancer and are undergoing treatment, you can greatly reduce these side effects by applying these recommendations.

What effect do cancer treatments have on the skin?

Some of these skin side effects of cancer treatments can be reduced with some precautions. Having a proper routine to maintain skin health before starting the treatment will help a lot in reducing these side effects.

Depending on the type of treatment you have chosen, the skin may be affected by various side effects. The most common side effects of skin cancer treatments are itching, dry skin, increased skin sensitivity, increased sensitivity to sunlight, skin discoloration, or susceptibility to skin infections.

Almost half of those undergoing cancer treatment experience some form of skin, hair, or nail problems. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or targeted treatments work by killing cancer cells, while immunotherapy strengthens the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. These effects can affect not only the target organ, but also other organ systems, including the skin.

Which cosmetic products should you avoid?

Each person has their own side effects and unique skin characteristics, but in general, all those undergoing cancer treatment should avoid any product or ingredient that causes skin irritation.

For example, when you undergo radiation therapy, your skin becomes red and inflamed, just like when you get a sunburn. This damaged skin, like healthy skin, does not act as a strong barrier and becomes sensitive and inflamed much sooner when exposed to some ingredients of health products.

Among the products that cause more skin inflammation are perfumes and preservatives.

In this situation, most people immediately want to use natural and organic products. But keep in mind that words like organic and natural do not necessarily mean that the respective product will not harm your skin or cause allergies.

Some of the natural extracts in health products are those substances that can be very allergenic and cause skin inflammation. So being natural does not necessarily mean that a product is safe.

In this situation, look for products that are designed for sensitive skin. These products contain the least stimulants. Special creams are also produced, which are specifically for use after surgery and for sensitive and damaged skin.

Avoid very strong toners as much as possible. Any health product that contains alcohol, beta-hydroxy acid, anti-acne agents such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide is not suitable for your skin. Avoid products that contain scrubs, abrasive grains, and chemical exfoliators.

Many of these patients ask about using products that contain vitamin C or tretinoin. The answer to this question is different for each person. Depending on the condition of the patient’s skin after cancer treatments, it may not be harmful to continue using these products. If in doubt about using a product on your skin, be sure to consult your doctor or a dermatologist.

What products should you use in your skin care routine for cancer patients?

Replace your soaps with mild, fragrance-free detergents. Your bathing should be done in a short time and bathe with lukewarm water.

You should be more careful about the skin of the face. After washing the face, do not rub the towel on the skin to dry it. You just need to put it on the skin and remove it. To use skin care products such as cream, you should not massage the skin, just put the cream on the skin with finger strokes and spread it slowly. Use hygiene products when your skin is slightly damp.

Find a face wash that is fragrance-free and preferably preservative-free. The product you buy should have soothing ingredients and hydrate the skin. Do not use creams and products that contain Vaseline on skin that has just experienced radiotherapy. These substances can trap the heat of the skin and cause more inflammation and discomfort of the skin.


Buy a mild cleanser to wash and clean your face of impurities. Even no-rinse cleansers can be a good choice for skin cleansing. You can gently remove these products from the skin with cotton or tissue. Cleansing oils, as well as face washes that have hydrating properties, are a good choice for people who have recently undergone radiotherapy.


Both before starting the treatment and during the treatment, you should hydrate the skin regularly. Using moisturizers and hydrating the skin is essential to treat dry skin. In addition to hydrating the skin, moisturizers create a barrier against it that prevents further inflammation.

Many people forget that moisturizers aren’t just for the face. You can use these creams wherever you experience dry skin. Creams and ointments usually have more hydrating properties than gels and lotions. Hydrating serums are also a good choice for skin hydration if they do not contain allergenic raw materials.


Increased sensitivity to sunlight is one of the most common side effects of cancer treatments. Depending on the type of medicine you are taking, this allergy can be very severe and happen very quickly. For this reason, skin care against sunlight becomes more important than ever for these people.

To protect the skin from the sun, use looser clothes, hats and sunscreen. Be sure to use sunscreen with a high SPF. The skin of the lips is as sensitive as the skin of the face and even more. Use lip balms that also have sunscreen properties.

Of course, you don’t have to completely deprive yourself of the sun. Just be careful about the way you dress and protect your skin from the strong sun with whatever means you can. The sunscreen you use should have an SPF of at least 30. Buy sunscreens that are suitable for sensitive skin.

After surgery or radiotherapy, it takes some time for the skin to return to normal conditions. In the first days, when your skin is still inflamed and red, the possibility of skin color change increases. So even in winter, protect your skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Considering these points and having a skin care routine for cancer patients, you can go through the treatment period with the least problems and side effects and start your new life without cancer.



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