Dry skin is one of the side effects of cancer treatment –

Snow and bitter winds make skin suffer more

During cancer treatment my skin looked like this: 

Peeling Sunburned on shoulder Stock Photo - 27316543

And my NHS dermatologist told me this was due to old age!!!!!!  So I went to France where no doctor would dare to tell this to a patient!

Instead of a cursory two minute glance at my skin, I had a day’s series of tests:  blood, skin, two consultations with dermatologists, etc. and at the end was told my awful skin was a side effect of Tamoxifen.

Just to make life more difficult

On top of drug side effects, winter can give one skin problems;  snow, winds, cold, flu, central heating etc. can add to these.

These affect people in varying degrees…..  Some people get away with mildly tight or flaky skin that goes away with a good moisturizer.  Others have flaking and itching so bad it’s physically uncomfortable, affects their ability to sleep and makes you want to hide away from the world.  If I rubbed my skin, white powdery flakes fell off, and I felt totally miserable.

And today I often have outbreaks of flaky, itchy patches, especially when I am put on a new drug – or sometimes just to be awkward!


For men and women, many of the causes of dry skin, especially today’s drugs,  affect the stratum corneum:  the top layer of the epidermis. The stratum corneum works like a plastic wrap around the body by keeping harmful substances and germs out and keeping water and oils in, making skin soft and supple.

So don’t blame side effects of drugs – there are other factors that can cause skin problems, but all can be helped, so don’t despair!

Before blaming drugs, check that your skin problem isn’t caused by:

  • Age
  • Climate – both cold and hot weather can affect our skin
  • Water – it’s good for the skin when you drink it.  But can dry out the skin because when it evaporates, it takes the skin’s natural oils with it. Swimming in a pool, especially one that’s heavily chlorinated, and taking excessively hot baths, can seriously dry out skin.
  • Soaps and Detergents

But you may have to come to the conclusion that it is your Medication that is causing dry skin –  by reducing the stratum corneum’s water levels, making it porous and leaky. Some common medications that cause dry skin are diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide or furosemide, Retin-A, cholesterol medication like pravastatin and simvastatin, and Accutane.

What helps
Other countries (France, Spain, Iceland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Japan etc) acknowledge that drugs can cause these problems, and, in conjunction with their cancer centres, cancer charities and hospitals, these countries produce clinically trialled skincare specifically designed to counter drug effects and repair our skin.  These products from abroad are now sold in good chemists or, thanks to Amazon, we can now order these online.
Which are my favourites?
I change skincare products frequently – so giving my skin a ‘wake-up’ call every so often.  There’s no science behind this that I know of – it just makes life more fun!  So here are some of my current favourites : –
La Roche Posay  – these are the products that rescued my skin at first, so I use them the most:
iS Clinical – together with Washington Cancer Center have developed a skincare range for ‘cancer skins
This Japanese company used to be called Kanebo, and at one time owned a cancer hospital.  Their products were incredibly helpful to me, but then, sadly, the company had massive problems – and things went quiet.  They have come back under the name Sensai, and their products are still fantastic – but sadly just as expensive!
If your skin, especially on your face or hands, is especially dry, I just slap on more skincare – especially if I am going outdoors.   
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