Speaking Point: Intro: Healthy skin helps protect cancer patients from infection, but during treatment, chemotherapy patients may experience dry skin. Anti-cancer drugs damage healthy tissue and impair blood cell formation that supports normal skin function. The overall objective of skin care for cancer patients is to maintain a healthy protective barrier against infection and to avoid unnecessary exposure to synthetic chemicals.
Speaking Point: 1. Damaged Skin Dangers: The side effects of cancer treatment include dryness, redness, itching, peeling, acne, as well as increased sensitivity to the sun. Cracked, chapped skin is a serious condition to the chemotherapy patient as it harbors bacteria and can lead to infection. Damaged skin is potentially dangerous when the immune system is compromised.
Speaking Point: 2. Cleanse Gently: When cleansing sensitive dry skin, great care is necessary to avoid harsh agents that strip the skin's natural oils. Be gentle. Lather the face with the fingertips using circular motions and rinse well with tepid water. Delicate capillaries are prone to damage by extreme hot or cold temperatures.
Speaking Point: 3. Ideal Cleansing Agent: Use a gentle facial and body bar to remove dirt, oil and pollutants. Be sure to rinse thoroughly in clean, soap-free water. A bar such as "Nature's GreenHouse Ultra Soothing™" contains colloidal oatmeal, moisture-retaining glycerin, African shea butter and is made with vegetable oils — not sodium tallowate*. Tallow comes from meat processing scraps usually consisting of beef fat and/or pork hide and bones. The oatmeal helps to soothe itchiness and retains moisture by leaving an invisible protective film on the skin. The shea butter helps combat dryness. This bar is unscented — that is, it's made without aromatic essential oils or petrochemical artificial fragrances. Beware...some 'unscented' soaps contain a masking fragrance.
Speaking Point: 4. What to Avoid: To protect the skin's natural oils, avoid long, hot showers over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and beyond a 10-minute duration. Combat skin dehydration by keeping the skin well lubricated and by sealing in precious moisture. However, do NOT use bath oils.
Speaking Point: 5. Lubrication: When oil is added to bath water, a layer of oil will form over the skin when stepping in it, which actually prevents water from soaking in. Also, oil makes bathtubs very slippery! Instead, soak in plain water first, then apply an organic rich vegetable oil (such as, avocado oil) immediately after getting out of the tub to seal in the water that's been absorbed. Refrain from using lotions which often contain alcohols and can evaporate quickly and whisk away moisture.Never share body products because of the risk of bacterial transmission.
Speaking Point: 6. Skin Renewal: Normally the skin renews itself every 28 days exposing a fresh new layer of skin. This natural skin regenerating process slows down as an individual ages and may be affected during chemotherapy. As a result, dead skin cells pile up on the surface and the skin takes on a dull appearance if not removed. The dead skin cells can also block hair follicles which can become infected with bacteria on the skin (pimples). To reduce the possibility of these infections, it's important to keep the skin clear and exfoliated.
Speaking Point: 7. Facial Masks: Never scrub the skin as it compromises the body's natural protective barrier. A very gentle facial mask one to three times a week may help the skin look more radiant, soothe dryness and exfoliate dead skin cells. Also, 15- to 20-minute facial is a great excuse to relax!
Speaking Point: 8. Powder and Shaving: Moisture encourages bacterial and fungal growth. Give special attention to moist body folds of the skin such as, under the arms and breasts, between the toes, and in the groin area. Powder these areas with a non-talc powder appropriate for dry skin types to prevent infection. Also, take extra care and take extra time when removing body hair to avoid cuts and possible infections of the hair follicle.
Speaking Point: 9. Good Skin for Good Health:Moist, supple, healthy skin will help protect the cancer patient from infection. Most importantly, looking better means feeling better which is the key to strengthening your immune system and is vital to your recovery.
*For more on tallowates, see HOT TOPIC: "Tallow in Your Soap - Is It Fit to be Fat?"