Strangely, the side-effects and impact of chemo and other long-term illness treatments on the skin are very rarely talked about in much detail. Hair loss, sickness, increase of infection have reams and reams of advice dedicated to them, but not so much for skin care.
Patients might be warned that their skin could be more sensitive to sunlight and could become dry but that is often about it. However, some people find that their skin is hugely affected.
Before we start, we should just say that everybody reacts differently to different types of treatment (for example, not everyone loses their hair) but it is worth noting things that might happen, and some of the products that our friends and family have found particularly useful. Also, if you’re thinking about buying a relaxing or pampering present for a friend or relative (moisturisers, bath oils, body lotions, nail, hand and foot creams), it’s good advice to think carefully about which type of products would be welcome and which won’t be suitable.
So firstly: skin. There are a number of things that may happen to your skin during treatment:
- It may get very dry. This can be caused by dehydration, the type of treatment you are undergoing, age and/or hormonal changes.
- Your skin may also become a bit discoloured, possibly darker and patchy.
- It is highly likely to become more sensitive to sunlight, something that is even more important to look out for during the summer months.
- Some patients experience redness and itchy patches all over their body, for some this can be mild for others it can be a horrible distressing side effect.
- If areas have previously been treated with radiotherapy they could become sore, red, hot, dry and itchy too.
But the good news is that there are a number of products available to help combat these specific side effects. Ren have a number of products that are specifically designed for those with sensitive skin. We especially like the Evercalm Anti-Redness Serum formulated to provide instant relief from the feeling of discomfort and reduces visible redness and irritation, making you feel a little less self-conscious. Or the 100% natural organic body oil by Defiant Beauty which is specially formulated for skin that is undergoing and/or recovering from chemotherapy.
It’s also worth noting that during treatment some people find they are sensitive to particular smells. Some may even make people feel sick. So lightly perfumed products may be best. Most people will opt to stay clear of any products that contain parabens, SLS and synthetic fragrances due to the potential cancer-causing ingredients. There are also essential oils that you are advised to avoid during treatment. The Defiant Beauty range has been specifically formulated for those going through treatment for cancer and is completely organic and natural, with no synthetic fragrances and covers your full skincare regime needs from head (dry scalp treatment) to toe (mild mint foot balm).
Like your skin, your nails may suffer too. Keeping them moisturised is the best way to prevent damage. Ideally patients are advised to massage and moisturise their nails three times a day during chemotherapy to avoid known effects such as:
- Nails becoming brittle and dry.
- Growing more slowly.
- Developing ridges and white or dark lines across them.
- Losing nails.
A dark nail varnish can also help protect the nails. Our Caring For Tips And Toes Kit is the perfect pampering, yet practical gift with everything you need to pamper your hands and look after your nails.
Other amazing products we have found are the Defiant Beauty Nail Oil and Defiant Beauty Nail Mask. A nail oil containing Peach Kernel and Macadamia oils specifically chosen for their moisturising properties. These make a wonderful gift, something a bit different, but practical.
Some chemotherapy and biological therapy drugs can affect the skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. This is called ‘hand-foot syndrome’ or, more commonly, ‘chemo burn’. The skin on your hands and feet may become sore, red and may peel. You may also have tingling, numbness, pain and dryness. Some doctors will prescribe a hydrocortisone cream which can be used for a period of time. But for long-term use the award-winning Yes! Nurse hand cream is defiantly worth a try. A gentle, mildly fragranced cream which is formulated to leave no greasy residue. The best part is that there is no need to re-apply after hand-washing due to its rapid absorption and lock-in moisture. Or our Burt’s Bees Tips and Toes Kit makes a lovely gift. Full of the most popular and more importantly most useful products and free from all the nasties (parabens, PEG, phthalates, perfumes and synthetic colours) these creams and butters will keep your hands, feet and lips naturally soft and beautiful.
But looking after your skin isn’t just for those who are unwell or undergoing treatment for cancer. Most of us need to do more to protect ourselves. Excessive exposure to the sun is responsible for much of the skin damage associated with aging. It's also the leading cause of skin cancer—by far the most common form of cancer diagnosed today. Research suggests it takes as little as 15 minutes for the sun's ultraviolet rays to harm your skin, even though it may take up to 12 hours for your skin to show a sunburn.
So it is worth taking that extra pampering time to take good care of it.
If you are looking for a great practical skincare gift either for yourself, a relative or a friend, look no further that our ever popular pampering gift sets, Pick individual items or multiple products depending on your requirements and we lovingly package them together with a handwritten note and send them to you or direct to your loved one.