Skin reflects our state of health

Warmer weather brings problems for survivors with ‘compromised’ skin.  Itching, scaly patches, itching, etc.  This could be drug side effects – even years  after you finished taking these.

Image result for skin images

I am NOT medically qualified, but it’s not rocket science to realise we need help when our skin misbehaves, particularly if the way it behaves comes as a side effect of drugs.  But it’s not only cancer drugs that damage our skin, but many of the tablets we are prescribed for other problems, especially pain killers.

I dread the dismissive sniff we get when we dare to mention anything to do with skin;  guaranteed to make us feel we are making a fuss over nothing.  Skin is our largest organ, so it’s not surprising it reflects all our bodily changes. If you have a good relationship with a CNS, ask them for advice.  But be very careful what you are prescribed, as two of the most popular products currently on the NHS list have caused London Fire Brigade to issue this warning:

“Many commonly used moisturising products, or emollient skin products, contain ingredients like paraffin or petroleum and are highly flammable. These products are widely used by elderly people and those with mobility problems, and help with conditions like eczema, or to prevent bed sores”.

Their Group Manager Mark Hazelton said: “It’s a real issue that people simply don’t realise that these skin products are in fact highly flammable. You’ve got elderly people, or those with mobility problems, using them liberally on their skin, which is fine, until a flame is introduced into the mix. These (products) soak into dressings, clothing and bedding, which makes the fabric flammable. And the problem is, it’s really difficult to wash the product out, even on a hot wash.

We are really concerned about smokers, and those using candles. If a flammable skin product is being used, a small spark can quickly lead to a serious blaze. This is a real concern for elderly people and those less able to escape if a fire takes hold.”  Fire Brigades around the country are concerned, as far too many deaths are caused this way.  See more on http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39308748

and http://metro.co.uk/2017/03/19/skin-creams-with-paraffin-in-them-linked-to-house-fire-deaths-6519276/

I stopped using these creams when I found they didn’t absorb well – how glad I am.

So what do I use?

Remember, I am NOT medically qualified, so ask your CNS if you are unsure.  I buy products that have been recommended by hospitals abroad, such as La Roche Posay, where skin care is regarded as highly important.  If it has been clinically-trialled, this is for me; these creams tend to absorb quickly, and don’t lie on the skin.  The products may be more expensive (although most aren’t), but they are designed to soak in and moisturise – and that’s what you want.  So what to use?

First – make sure you have a good cleanser – a creamy one if you had dry skin before;  a foaming cleanser if you had an oily skin.  Use a moisturiser, even if you are wearing make-up, and then I put on

If you like to carry a cooling spray mist during the day, try 

Then every time I go out in the sun, and during the day if out for a long time, I slap on

(don’t forget to ask if your GP will prescribe this – some will)

At night, always cleanse then use a night moisturiser.  This has different properties to day moisturisers.  Don’t forget an eye cream – it really does keep wrinkles around the eyes at bay

Why is skin care so important?

The skin performs six primary functions which include, protection, absorption, excretion, secretion, regulation and sensation.
  • Protection. The skin functions as our first line of defense against toxins, radiation and harmful pollutants. …
  • Absorption. …
  • Excretion. …
  • Secretion. …
  • Regulation. …
  • Sensation.

During treatment, our skin undergoes changes throughout the body. These are called “cutaneous side effects”, and depend on which treatment we undergo. These don’t occur systematically, as each one of us will have a specific reaction. Some will be lucky, and their skin will go back to its normal condition when treatment ends.  But many will experience poor skin quality, but this can be balanced and treated with appropriate care.

Today, the working group European SKIn Management in Oncology (ESKIMO) has analysed and identified the various side effects of treatments. When I was being treated my skin problems were put down to “it’s your age”, but I knew this was nonsense.Today, as ESKIMO Prof. Brigitte Dreno says, “Daily cosmetic care is essential to protect the skin from aggressive cancer treatments. It is the key to a better quality of life during treatments.”

If you have an understanding doctor, oncologist, dermatologist or nurse, you can ask them about cutaneous effects of cancer treatments.  But if you are treated on the usual assembly line of cancer care, and can’t find time and/or the right person, .go on La Roche Posay’s website http://www.laroche-posay.com/article/Better-skin-throughout-cancer/a27668.aspx

They even have a video for men;  I find most men are far too embarrassed to ask advice about skincare, but gender doesn’t stop the ‘nasties’.  But there is a lot of practical advice on this, and the company’s products are recommended by over 90 cancer hospitals around the world.

So here’s hoping you have a beautiful summer!

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