While going through radiation therapy, you may experience side effects to your skin. The most common side effect is dry, itchy skin. In some cases, the skin may become red, swollen, or blistered. You may experience all or none of these and the severity you experience can also vary. The risk of skin side effects from radiation therapy is highest during the summer months. This is because the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage the skin and make it more sensitive to radiation. If you are undergoing radiation therapy, it is important to talk to your doctor about how to safely enjoy the outdoors. Your doctor can help you to develop a plan that considers your individual needs and concerns.
Here are some tips for safely enjoying the outdoors during radiation therapy:
- Plan your activities for the morning or evening: The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm. If you can, try to plan your outdoor activities before or after these hours.
- Wear protective clothing: Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, a hat with a broad brim, and sunglasses when you are outdoors.
- Apply sunscreen: Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all exposed skin, including the skin that is being treated with radiation. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are sweating or swimming.
- Take breaks: If you start to feel tired or hot, take a break from your outdoor activity. Go inside and cool down for a while before going back outside.
- Listen to your body: If you are feeling pain or discomfort, stop your activity and go inside.
Good skin care during radiation therapy is not just about protection from sun and heat though. Whether spending time outdoors or laying low inside, good skin care is important during radiation therapy. Here are some additional tips to consider for skin care during radiation therapy:
- Avoid harsh soaps and detergents. Use mild soaps and detergents that are designed for sensitive skin.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals on your skin. This includes things like bleach, ammonia, and solvents.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol. Smoking and alcohol can irritate your skin and make it more sensitive to radiation.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eating a healthy diet can help your skin stay healthy and hydrated.
- Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep helps your body heal and repair itself.
Spending time outdoors can be beneficial when going through radiation therapy. First, spending time in nature can help to reduce stress and anxiety. This is important for people undergoing cancer treatment, as stress and anxiety can make side effects worse. Second, being outdoors can help to improve mood and well-being. The fresh air and sunshine can boost energy levels and give people a sense of peace and tranquility. Third, being outdoors can help to improve sleep quality. This is important for people undergoing radiation therapy as sleep helps the body to heal and repair itself. This is important for people undergoing cancer treatment, as the immune system is often weakened by the disease and treatment. By following these tips, you can help protect your skin during radiation therapy. If you have any questions, concerns, or symptoms to report, talk to your care team.
Learn more about WHAT TO EXPECT during and after radiation therapy at https://mropa.com/what-to-expect/