Oncology Skin Care

When the doctor says, “It’s cancer,” everything changes. Familiar actions and routines are put on hold while the anti-cancer treatments begin, and it can seem like everything, even your own skin, has been turned upside down. Anti-cancer treatments can temporarily, and sometimes permanently, damage the skin and our favorite products might not be able to keep up with the changes. Skin that has been affected by anti-cancer therapies like surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or hormone therapy needs special consideration.  Pre-treatment is one of the most important things a skin care therapist or patient can do to prepare the skin and mitigate any effects as much as possible. Here are some of our skincare recommendations, summarized from the work of Dr. Hans Lautenschläger:  

If surgery is necessary, scarring is a primary concern. Scars can be aesthetically disruptive, sensitive to the sun, and can present with uneven pigmentation. Some scars can even be physically uncomfortable.  To prepare the skin and get it as healthy as possible before surgery, daily treatment with a membrane cream is a great start. Membrane creams like DMS® Base Creams or Vitamin Cream Mask mimic the lipid barrier and help repair and regenerate the skin. After the wound has healed, and been granted doctor’s clearance, peels and other therapies that stimulate circulation are the most effective treatments to support regeneration and address pigmentation issues. Since scar tissue lacks melanin, it is critical to protect the skin from the sun. Vitamin C Liposomes in a DMS® Base Cream can help diminish pigmentation, and mineral pigmented makeup can provide a healthy cover-up.

Radiation therapy has a substantial negative effect on healthy skin cells. It can degrade collagen, disrupt the lipid barrier, cause intensely dry and reddened skin, increase cell proliferation and desquamation, and cause peeling and weeping sores. If you think that sounds like symptoms of serious sun exposure, you’re right. Radiation therapy affects the skin like UV radiation, and also creates free radicals in the skin and increases inflammation. Boswellia Nanoparticles, NMF (natural moisturizing factor) Liposomes, and Hyaluronic Acid Liposomes all work to combat collagen degradation, free radical damage, and reduce dehydration. Liposomes and nanoparticles are active ingredients encapsulated in phosphatidylcholine, which itself protects skin cells from gamma radiation and promotes cell regeneration.  Again, preparing the skin before the treatment starts is critically important for recovery.

Chemotherapy can be the harshest anti-cancer treatment for the skin. The skin is at a higher risk for dehydration, barrier disorders, itching, hyperpigmentation, and infection. Membrane creams that are free of emulsifiers and combined with hyaluronic acid and NMF will provide the best overall protection against the effects of chemotherapy treatment. Additional symptoms should be evaluated case-by-case to find the best recommendations for relief.  The effects of immunotherapy can be approached like those of chemotherapy.  Applying lipid-rich products can help alleviate dry skin and reduce irritation. 

Hormone therapy can send sebum glands into overdrive, causing oily skin and possibly acne. Membrane creams with additional liposomal phosphatidylcholine has been proven in clinical trials to balance sebum production.

It is possible to provide real and measurable relief to clients or patients undergoing cancer treatment. Any improvement in quality of life can add strength to the fight.  We highly recommend the oncology skincare training offered by Oncology Spa Solutions for their excellent, in-depth program. Click HERE for their training schedule.

For more information, and to read our source article, click HERE.

Abby Chandler