Dry skin can be uncomfortable and itchy.
Several breast cancer treatments can make your skin dry and flaky:
- radiation therapy
- hormonal therapy
Often the dry skin will last as long as your course of treatment and then gradually go away after the treatment stops.
Managing dry skin
If you have severe dry skin with deep cracks in your skin that are bleeding and inflamed, talk to your doctor right away. There are medicines that can control any infection and ease itching and redness.
Tips to ease dry skin:
- Apply a rich moisturizer several times a day, especially right after you bathe or wash your hands. You can also use an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin is still damp from a bath or shower. Oil has more staying power than cream and helps stop water from evaporating from your skin's surface.
- Apply sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher to all areas that are exposed to the sun — face, ears, hands, and back of the neck — before you go outside.
- Use lukewarm instead of hot water for baths and showers. Limit your bath or shower time to 15 minutes or less.
- Avoid harsh, drying soaps. Use cleansing creams or bath or shower gels with added moisturizers. Choose mild soaps that have added oils or fats. Avoid deodorant and antibacterial soaps, which are especially harsh.
- Pat your skin dry after bathing. Rubbing your skin with a rough towel while it's wet can make it more irritated.
- Use a humidifier, especially if you live in a cold climate and run your furnace quite a bit. Hot, dry indoor air can dry out your skin and make itching and flakiness worse. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to keep out bacteria and fungi.
- Choose natural fabrics that breathe. Cotton and silk are good choices. Avoid wool, which can be irritating to skin that's sensitive.
- Use detergents without dyes or perfumes.
For more tips, ask the members of the Breastcancer.org Discussion Boards for advice.