“Hi Warriors! I’m in my second day of radiation and just wanted to know if you have some tips on taking care of your skin and expanders during radiation. I am drinking tons of water and keeping the skin moisturized. Any other suggestions? Thanks! Xx, Erin“
A version of the above question pops up so often on our private Facebook Group that we decided to make it a blog post. Below is a summary of our recommendations.
#1 : Aquaphor was the most popular; some suggested Aquaphor Rx with lidocaine, some suggested a specific regimen, e.g. Aquaphor after radiation and aloe vera at night, or refrigerating the Aquaphor. If you’ve never met Aquaphor, it looks and feels a lot like Vaseline, and in fact it’s 41% petroleum jelly. It’s gloppiness is part of its magic- it creates a protective barrier on the skin to seal in moisture.
#2: Although you’re doing radiation, it is still possible to feel like Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile (and not just because your boob feels like it’s been bitten by an Asp!) Aloe vera, a beauty favorite from Cleo’s time, came in second, again with some variations including use of the fresh plant, freezing/puréeing it, and a specific brand called “Lily of the Desert” gel. If you were to break open an aloe leaf, you would see a slimy, watery substance that is full of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. In 1959, the FDA recommended Aloe Vera specifically for it’s use in treating 1st and 2nd degree burns, with some studies suggesting it can increase healing time by 9 days.
#3: Calendula cream came in a close third. Calendula is an oil from the Marigold plant and known for it’s anti fungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
#4: Miaderm and Moo Goo tied for fourth, which is funny because of their contrast: One was developed in a lab, and another on a farm. Per their website, “Miaderm® was developed by radiation oncologists to minimize skin-related side effects of radiation therapy & to ensure the effectiveness of treatment.” It is a combination of calendula, aloe vera, aqueous cream (think Eucerin) and Hyaluronate. Moo Goo was developed by an Australian Dairy Farmer who discovered his mum happily using the cream for the cows on her own skin. As any good son would do, he improved the formula and started a skin care company. The result is not only a wonderful product, but also one with social, environmental and health conscious values. To sum: It’s basically a silky smooth cream inspired by happy Australian cows that’s good enough to eat! What more could you want?
#5: Silvadine cream came in fifth, followed closely by hydrocortisone and Lidocaine cream. Silvadene and Lidocaine both require a prescription. Silvadene is often used when a wound is present, while Lidocaine is a great one to help manage pain. Hydrocortisone is likely in your medicine cabinet at this very moment. It’s an over the counter cream that helps reduce redness, itching and swelling of the skin. If you can’t find yours, PROcure is a great, family owned company that doesn’t include, petrolatum, fragrance, parabens or sulfates.
OTHER TOPICALLY APPLIED CREAM
- Saline soaks (1L water/ 2 tablespoons salt)
- covering the area with either chilled wet flannels or distilled white vinegar soaked wash cloths.
- Cool compress using teabags
- Lindiskin cooler cold packs or Alfamo cooling towels
- Applying frozen bags of rice
- Drinking lots of water
- Eating turmeric
- Buying inexpensive tanks to wear under clothes
- Going braless/topless
Please note: before adding anything to your skin during radiation, CHECK WITH YOUR DOC!
What helped you the most during radiation? Comment below, or better yet, join our private Facebook group and let us know!