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Understanding the Skin Issues Caused By Chemo and Radiation

Chemotherapy, radiation and other forms of cancer therapies can cause a number of side effects. Besides causing hair loss, nausea and discoloration of nails, these treatments can cause a wide range of skin problems that can complicate the journey of someone battling cancer.

Depending on the type of therapy they are receiving, a person can experience a wide range of changes to their skin. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider in order to learn more about what treatment you are receiving, and what kinds of problems you can expect to face in the future.

The following types of therapies are most common:


  • Radiation Therapy. Exposure to radiation causes “radiation dermatitis” – which is also known as “radiation burns." Furthermore, this form of therapy is known to cause dryness, peeling, pruritus (which is itching) and changes in color (usually red or sometimes purple). It may look as if the skin has a severe sunburn or tan. The skin can also be swollen and/or puffy looking.


  • Chemotherapy. This treatment is known to damage fast growing skin cells. This can make the skin dry, itchy, red, and with or without peeling. The skin can develop rashes along with sun sensitivity, which can lead to the skin becoming easily sunburned. Acne-like face rashes are also known to occur, along with Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (hand-foot syndrome).


  • Targeted Therapies. Targeted Therapies - which include Hormone Therapy, Immunotherapy, Gene Therapy and other Biological therapies can cause the skin to itch (pruritus). They are also known to make the skin dry and cause rashes.


  • Surgery. Wound(s) left after surgery can often time cause discomforts such as pain and itching. The skin around healing wounds can become dry and flaky during the healing process. You should always keep your wounds clean. Using a gentle moisturizer to promote healing and manage that itchy feeling accompanied by the healing process.


Some more severe skin problems needing urgent medical treatment are:

  • A "moist reaction" is when the skin begins to develop sores on parts of the body that has received treatment. These sores are often times painful, wet, and may be infected. This is known to happen in those who are receiving therapy in areas of the body where the skin folds, such as the buttocks, breasts, and ears, only to name a few.
  • Signs of allergic reactions to chemotherapy are sudden severe itching, rashes, and even hives.

Prevention and Management Methods


Medical staff will routinely inspect the injection site (during intravenous therapy) during the administering of chemotherapy drugs. If you experience burning, pain or swelling at the injection site while chemotherapy is being administered you should report it right away.

Furthermore, those receiving therapy treatment for cancer should inform their healthcare team if their skin becomes red, dry or itchy or begins to peel during or subsequent to treatment.

Most of the time these therapies are uneventful, and any minor chemotherapy side effects can be handled at home. It is very important to keep your skin in the best condition possible during chemotherapy.  Specialty skincare lines, like Lindi Skin, can be quite helpful


  • - In order to lower risks of skin infections and irritation, those receiving cancer therapies should make a habit of washing frequently with a gentle, non-drying cleanser such as Lindi Skin's Body Wash or Face Wash. Avoid using harsh soaps, as this may dry and aggravate the skin further, causing itching and rashes.
  • - Resist the inclination to scratch or pick at pimples.
  • - Though hot water can seem to be soothing, you should bathe in warm water instead. Hot baths dry out skin.
  • - Use cuticle cream rather than tearing and cutting the cuticles.  Lindi Skin's Lip Balm works wonders on cuticles.
  • - Avoid using razors. It is better to shave parts of the body with an electric shaver to prevent accidental cuts that could later become infected.
  • - Because the skin will become much more sensitive, it is wise to practice caution when going outside into the sun. Wear wide-brimmed hats and clothing that covers the arms and legs. Avoid wearing sandals as well. Use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater.
  • - In order to manage radiation dermatitis/radiation burn, it is advised to keep the area moisturized. There are specialized hydrogel dressings on the market, such as Lindi Skin's Cooler Roll and Cooler Pad, that you can place directly onto the irradiated area.


About Lindi Skin

We believe in providing the absolute best for our customers. Our products are carefully researched and clinically tested to ensure that only the safest ingredients are present. These formulas are designed to deliver a gentle and luxuriously therapeutic experience, improving the quality of life for patients. Lindi Skin also believes in giving. By aligning ourselves with various partners that understand the needs of patients, we aid in offering supportive care to those affected by cancer. Since 2005, we have donated over 900,000 products to various hospitals throughout the United States, caregivers, and non-profit cancer organizations.

Lindy Snyder, Founder & CEO of Lindi Skin, has worked extensively with oncologists, dermatologists, skin care formulators, nurses, and patients to help develop the best possible products for the most sensitive skin. As a fellow cancer survivor, she understands firsthand how to transform the experience of skin care during treatment into a luxurious one, with the goal in mind of helping you look and feel your best.

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