Cancer treatment can significantly affect the skin, which is why you have to be especially mindful of your skincare regimen.
Changes to the skin can reveal health conditions like cancer, and cancer treatment can significantly affect the skin, which is why you have to be especially mindful of your skincare regimen.
“Changes in the skin may be an early warning sign that cancer is present in other parts of the body,” says Mario E. Lacouture, M.D., a dermatologist and director of the oncodermatology program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Many skin conditions are associated with an increased risk for cancer, including itching, which can indicate lymphomas; black to brown spots which may indicate breast, ovarian, cervical cancers, and others; as well as skin-colored bumps or cysts that could indicate colorectal or kidney cancers.
Dr. Lacouture, who specializes in the dermatologic side effects of cancer treatment, encourages people to be aware of skin changes and then discuss them with their doctor.
Patients already receiving cancer treatments, such as anti-cancer medications and radiation, may also experience changes to their skin.
For example, radiation treatment can irritate the skin; cancer surgery can scar; and stem cell transplants for patients with blood cancers can cause rashes.
“For people living with cancer, the skin becomes very sensitive, so anything that comes in contact with the skin may irritate it, even products that never posed a problem before,” says Dr. Lacouture, who recommends testing products behind your ear or the underside of your forearm for one day and monitoring for signs of itching or redness.
He advises people going through cancer treatment to avoid long, hot showers or baths, which can worsen rashes and skin irritation; and not to use loofahs or sponges to clean or scrub, as they are loaded with infection-causing germs.
Avoid products that exfoliate; as well as botanicals like arnica, camphor, eucalyptus, and menthol; and those labeled “all natural,” “organic,” or unpreserved products, which may have infectious germs.
Apply hypoallergenic moisturizer — that doesn’t have perfumes or preservatives — to the skin within 15 minutes of showering or bathing.
Look for products that respect the skin barrier and are formulated for sensitive skin. Read labels for ingredients like thermal spring water, shea butter, evening primrose oil, and squalene and glycerin, which can soothe and replenish compromised skin.
Eau Thermale Avène, a Pierre Fabre brand, prides itself on skincare products for sensitive skin.
All of their products are non-comedogenic, tested on sensitive skin, and formulated without preservatives.
Here are four fragrance-free Avène products that may benefit the sensitive skin of patients with cancer:
Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream is an ultra-rich daily moisturizer that helps restore the skin’s barrier while soothing visible redness, tightness, and over-heating. It’s infused with postbiotics to calm skin discomfort, and it has patented sterile packaging since it’s preservative-free.
Avène Thermal Spring Water facial mist hydrates, refreshes, and cools the skin. Over 150 studies show it’s clinically proven to soothe, soften, and calm skin. With its unique and optimal mineral composition, Avène Thermal Spring Water doesn’t dry out skin. Plus, its neutral pH helps reduce skin sensitivity and restores skin’s balance.
Cicalfate + Restorative Protective Cream is a rich, nourishing cream that’s infused with a postbiotic restorative ingredient to help protect skin from external aggressors while maintaining proper hydration for optimal skin restoration. It can be used directly on irritated or wounded skin.
XeraCalm A.D Lipid-Replenishing Balm is a lipid-replenishing balm that nourishes, soothes, and calms dry, itchy skin that’s prone to irritation. It helps rebalance the microbiome while supporting skin’s defense system for healthy skin — thanks to its postbiotic-infused formula that comes in patented sterile packaging, allowing the formula to be preservative-free.
Find out more about Eau Thermale Avène skincare products: aveneusa.com.