In the beginning, the skin can get pink and dry. As treatment continues, the skin may become drier and itchy, and red. Later in treatment, the skin may peel, and new skin will appear. As with any burn, the new skin is tender and fragile. It may become blistery or weepy.
I'm listing below some paraphrased guidelines for during treatment, as recommended by the radiation staff. These recommendations are to minimize skin reactions, keep the skin as healthy and infection free as possible, and provide comfort to the affected area.
- When washing the treatment area, use plain lukewarm water and a very mild soap. Dove was recommended. No deodorants or antibacterial soaps in the area because they are too harsh.
- Wash the skin gently and rinse with water. Do not use a washcloth or sponge. These are too rough on tender skin. Pat the skin with a towel to dry. Do not rub.
- Do not apply anything to the skin at least two hours prior to treatment. Otherwise, moisturize the area at least twice a day. Nivea, Eucerin, Aquaphor, and 100% Aloe Vera are recommended, unless you are allergic to them.
- Once the skin starts to react, your doctor may prescribe special treatment creams for the area.
- Do not use any creams, lotions or powders in the treated area unless approved by the radiation staff. Cornstarch may be used as a powder, and does not have any effect if radiated. Many cosmetic powders have trace amounts of minerals or metal, and can react if radiated, so don't use them.
- Wear soft and loose fitting clothing over the treatment area, including bras. A loose fitting sports bra or camisole is best. No underwire bras.
- Avoid extremes in temperature, both hot and cold. No heating pads, ice packs, hot tubs, saunas or highly chlorinated swimming pools.
- Avoid sun exposure to the treated area during and at least one month after radiation. After radiation, always protect the area with sunscreen.
- Do not shave the treatment area. Do not use adhesive tape on treated areas.
- Always notify radiation staff of any changes to your skin, although it is checked daily during setup, and weekly by the radiation oncologist.
From what I've read, and what I was given by the staff, the most common side effects of treatment are skin reactions, nipple irritation and breast soreness, and fatigue. I finished my first week of radiation treatment today, and so far, no noticeable changes in my skin.
One week down. Six to go.
Glow Girl. Beam on.