Prior to starting treatment, it is essential that all patients are given advice regarding skin care, as both verbal and written instructions. Assessment of the skin condition of the treatment area needs to be performed at each treatment attendance, additionally, patients who are receiving multiple fractions must be reviewed by either the nurse practitioner or oncologist. Special attention also needs to be given to the patient’s psychological and general physical condition as this will affect their general ability to manage.

Skin Care Advice

The most common advice given to patients undergoing superficial radiotherapy treatment is not to apply any liquids or lotions to the treatment area. Washing around the area of treatment is not recommended and also the use of perfumes, cosmetics or aftershave is not advisable, mainly due to the presence of trace metals which may intensify the skin reaction.

If the patient is unable to tolerate not washing the area they can be advised to wash using warm (not hot) water, using a simple unperfumed soap. Skin should be treated gently; patted dry and not rubbed as this could heighten the sensitivity and robustness of skin, causing it to be further compromised.

Patients who are having treatment to the scalp can be advised to wash hair using a mild baby shampoo. If possible hair should be left to dry naturally although a hair dryer on a cool setting is acceptable.

Patients are also advised to stay out of the sun.

NEXT: Patient Care: Managing Skin Reactions & Post Treatment Care (5 min)