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Skin Reactions

Dry Skin


Dry skin is a common side effect of cancer treatment. Both chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause dry skin. Management of dry skin includes using moisturizer, avoiding things that make the symptoms worse, and protecting your skin until it returns to normal.

What is dry skin?

Dry skin is a lack or shortage of moisture in the skin, causing it to appear rough and scaly. It may feel tight and possibly itchy.

What causes dry skin?

There are many causes of dry skin, but for cancer patients, treatment is often a cause. Your skin cells are constantly renewing themselves by dividing rapidly in the deep layers and sloughing off the old cells at the surface. Both chemotherapy and radiation can disrupt this process, resulting in dry skin and other skin reactions.

Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. Chemotherapy works by destroying cells that grow rapidly, a characteristic of cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also affects normal cells that grow rapidly, such as skin cells.

Radiation may also cause your skin to be dry and flaky. Skin reactions that are caused by radiation usually occur 2 to 3 weeks after radiation therapy begins and can take 4 to 6 weeks to heal.

Other factors that contribute to dry skin include:

How can dry skin be managed?

Try the following tips for managing dry skin:



Things to avoid:


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