Skin Care During Oncology Treatments

Most of us have been touched by cancer in some way, either through family members, friends, clients, and even ourselves. Cancer patients face new and varied skin conditions as a result. Progressive Esthetics proudly stands on the frontlines to help professionals who treat clients who have cancer. Use of the outstanding dermaviduals® products can help skin care professionals aid the reversal of the harmful affects the disease and treatment has on the skin of their clients, without negative side effects. Progressive Esthetics stands poised and ready to be part of the solution for the challenges oncology estheticians face.


When cancer strikes, it abruptly forces the patient to change his or her familiar lifestyle. Of course, this also applies to skin care routines. We want to share some highlights about skin care during the four main treatment options used today:

·       Surgical Interventions

·       Radiation Therapy

·       Chemotherapy

·       Immunotherapy


Surgical Interventions:

Scars developing after surgical interventions may become an esthetical problem. A skin care that actively supports the skin recovery through microcirculation (peels and massage techniques) are the most significant measures to take after the healing process is completed. Since scar tissue lacks melanin, sun protective measures should also be taken. Applying liposomal vitamin C derivatives can reduce the effects of contrasts in pigmentation and inhibit tyrosinase. The surrounding skin tone can also be matched by using pigment containing foundations and powders.


Radiation Therapy:

Radio-dermatitis can be severe. Dry and reddened skin similar to sun burn is a visible consequence of radiation therapy.  The collagen is degraded and sebum secretion decreases and the barrier function of the skin in disturbed and can lead to the atrophic condition of the skin. It goes without saying that the skin should not be additionally stressed by UV radiation (sun) during therapy. Use products with a high sun protection factor. It is also strongly recommended to avoid, if possible, body-cleansing products that contain aggressive tensides such as lauryl sulfate and laural ether sulfate. In most cases, lukewarm water is sufficient for cleansing the skin.


When it comes to soothing the damaged skin, hydrogels with alginates, hyaluronic acid, CM glucan, aloe vera, D-panthenol and amino acids (NMF) will keep the skin well hydrated. Some gels can incorporate vegetable oils whose omega-6 and omega-3 acids have anti-inflammatory effects. Irritating and potentially sensitizing additives in cosmetics should be avoided. Also, an essential pre-requisite for fast recovery of the skin after therapy is the adequate preparation of the skin before therapy starts. It is recommended to apply barrier creams several weeks before a planned therapy begins in order to protect the skin effectively.



Chemotherapy involves a multitude of different effects for the skin as completely different destinations are targeted. If it comes to damage fast growing tumor cells, the fast growing healthy cells of the skin and mucous membranes are affected. This means the side effects will vary widely and each case will need to be addressed individually. The most important skin care measure to be taken in this context is to support the skin barrier with non-irritant, emulsifier free products in combination with hydrating agents such as amino acids and hyaluronic acid. Itching sensations can be successfully relieved with urea and erythema treated with fatty acids and vessel stabilizing extracts such as echinacea and butcher’s broom, but must be tested on an individual basis.



Immunotherapy is classed either active or passive, whereas both will support the immune response to cancer cells. In other words, slow down the growth or even kill cancerous cells. Active immunotherapy implies the use of vaccines produced from devitalized tumor cells and or antigens in order to cause the natural immune response of the body to the cancer cells. The skin care must be adapted to the specific symptoms that appear. It is essential to avoid irritations and in individual cases, it may be recommended to apply lipid-enriched products.





Susan Schulz