October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we thought we would get involved and talk about the best product recommendations to nurture your skin in such difficult times. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly one of the worst moments in someone’s life. And you may think that a topic like skincare seems insignificant and secondary in the big picture of overcoming cancer. But changes in skin are the most commonly reported side effect by patients that went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Addressing such concerns and working towards your skin’s previous glow, are not just a vanity matter. It’s about reinstalling a sense of normalcy and routine to a life that got far from normal.

I was diagnosed in 1998 with stage 4B Hodgkin’s Lymphoma disease. After aggressive chemotherapy treatments, I began to see signs of eczema as well as rashes that covered my entire body.

In face of so many other transformations to your body, treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy are bound to cause rashes, itchiness, and sun sensitivity to the skin. Physical changes may also include dark skin patches, called hyperpigmentation, and can make your skin break out with acne and hives. The good news is that these skin reactions are usually temporary and there are treatments available to help patients cope with these side effects.  


Post-treatment rashes may look like acne or even measles in appearance, and are the most common side effect of anticancer medications. It is perfectly ok to use cosmetics on rashes. But keep in mind that anything that comes in contact with your skin at this stage may cause irritation, so try only using one product at a time. Patients often develop new allergies, even to products they used regularly in the past. Regarding skincare, look for facial cleaners that are water based and do not contain alcohol. As for moisturizing creams, aim for the ones that contain from 5% to 10% urea in composition. This will likely help with the dryness that comes with rashes. And for at least two weeks, you should avoid any lotions and creams that contain irritants such as alcohol, perfume or dyes.

Itchy skin

Many cancer treatments slow down the skin’s ability to renew itself and that usually causes or worsens dry skin. The most important thing is to avoid scratching, despite how difficult it may seem. At this juncture, fragrance free creams and ointments can be more effective than lotions at retaining moisture. Look for products that contain anti-itch substances such as menthol and camphor. Such products will work better when applied within 15 minutes after showering or bathing. Opt for lukewarm water instead of hot and stay away from scrubs and loofahs for the time being, as they can strip away natural oils that safeguard your recovering skin.

Sun exposure

Being safe in the sun after your cancer treatment is the most consensual recommendation by doctors. Even in-treatment patients don’t need to avoid the sun, but should be smart about sun exposure. Because most anticancer medications and radiation therapy increase your sensitivity to the sun, making skin more susceptible to sunburn. So don’t skip the sunscreen and aim for at least an SPF 30 protection against both UVA and UVB rays. And if you have already been experiencing sun sensitivity, go extra and use a broad-brimmed hat and sun-protective clothing. Also, don't forget to reapply sunscreen every two hours if you’re outside, especially if you are swimming or sweating.

As you notice any of these changes in your skin, you should always protect the affected area from sun exposition, notify your treatment health staff, and book an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as possible. Early intervention is key to preventing side effects from worsening. Don’t forget that you should never be ashamed to prioritize skin care, beauty, and skin comfort when it comes to this crazy difficult journey of cancer. With the right information, there’s a lot you can do to keep looking like yourself, and with that perhaps help you to feel like yourself too.

Breast Cancer awareness

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