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Breast cancer radiation: Can it cause dry skin?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/breast-cancer-radiation/AN01950
- With Mayo Clinic internist
Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.read biographyclose window
Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.
Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, certified by the American Board of Family Practice, has been practicing medicine at Mayo Clinic since 1995 with special interests in breast diseases and women's health.
Dr. Pruthi is a consultant in the Department of Medicine, the Division of General Internal Medicine and the Breast Diagnostic Clinic. She is an associate professor of medicine at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native is enthusiastic about promoting education and patient-related research and has been active in both areas since joining Mayo Clinic. Dr. Pruthi is the primary investigator at Mayo Clinic of a clinical trial evaluating new agents for the prevention of breast cancer and has research interests in the identification of biomarkers for early detection of breast cancer.
Her other research and clinical interests include managing the health of women who are at increased risk of breast cancer, breast pain and hot flashes, and developing patient education decision-making tools for breast-related concerns.
She is past director of the Breast Diagnostic Clinic and has been a member of the Women's Health Executive Committee. Dr. Pruthi has been newly elected as a secretary of the executive committee for the American Society of Breast Disease. She has assisted with a variety of website content.
"Having an opportunity to share information and empower my patients in the way that will help them to understand and be able to make educated decisions about their own health is very important to me," Dr. Pruthi says.
"The Internet is a tremendous resource and information site for people, and I want them to get up-to-date and accurate information to be able to make informed choices for themselves, their family members and friends."
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Breast cancer radiation: Can it cause dry skin?
Can breast cancer radiation cause dry skin? Can you offer suggestions for relief?
from Sandhya Pruthi, M.D.
Dry skin after breast cancer radiation treatment is fairly common, especially for people who live in dry climates. In addition to dry, flaky, itchy skin, you may experience sunburn-like skin changes to the treated area. If you're struggling with itching and burning, consult your radiation oncologist. He or she can help determine whether any underlying conditions are contributing to your symptoms. In the meantime, these suggestions may help:
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids.
Moisturize your skin. Moisturizers provide a seal over your skin to keep water from escaping. Thicker moisturizers work best, including over-the-counter brands such as Cetaphil, Eucerin and Vanicream.
In addition, emu oil — a preparation of oil from a large, flightless Australian bird — is sometimes used topically to improve healing of burns from radiation therapy. Whether emu oil is effective in preventing and healing radiation burns or in treating dry skin from radiation therapy has not yet been proved.
- Limit bath time. Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less, and use warm — rather than hot — water.
- Avoid harsh, drying soaps. Choose mild soaps that have added oils and fats, such as Neutrogena, Basis or Dove. Avoid deodorant and antibacterial soaps. It may also help to limit lather to strategic areas, such as your face, underarms, genitals, hands and feet.
- Pat dry. After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on your skin. Follow this with generous amounts of moisturizer.
- Avoid direct sun. If you expect to be in direct sunlight for more than a few minutes, wear protective clothing, such as a broad-brimmed hat and shirt with long sleeves. Don't use tanning beds.
If the itching and burning don't improve or you have scarring from breast cancer radiation, your doctor may recommend various prescription medications to ease your symptoms.Next question
Ginger for nausea: Does it work?
- Breast cancer. American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/DetailedGuide/breast-cancer-treating-radiation. Accessed March 1, 2013.
- Understanding radiation therapy: A guide to patients and families. American cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003028-pdf.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2013.
- Emu oil. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 1, 2013.
- Rollman DC, et al. Double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of processed ultra emu oil versus placebo in the prevention of radiation dermatitis. American Society for Radiation Oncology. http://astro2012.abstractsnet.com/aposter.wcs?entryid=011257. Accessed March 1, 2013.
- Managing radiation therapy skin side effects: What to do about mild skin changes. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/radiation-side-effects/skin.pdf. Accessed March 1, 2013.