Northern Centre for Cancer Care

Skin care

Radiotherapy and skin care

The majority of patients who receive radiotherapy are at risk of developing a temporary skin reaction. The condition of your skin will be assessed regularly.  Information and medicine will be given to you, should you need it.

The main factor that determines the likelihood and possible severity of developing a skin reaction is the dose the skin receives and the way that the radiation is delivered.

In general the greater number of treatments you receive the more likely you are to experience some sort of skin reaction to some or all of the skin in the treatment fields.

A skin reaction could occur in the areas where the beam enters and exits your body and changes often start approximately 10-14 days after the first treatment. The skin will become drier, slightly irritable and redden to some extent.

After completion of radiotherapy, skin changes will persist and worsen over the following 10-14 days. Healing will then begin and the skin will recover within a few weeks. You should continue to use any creams given to you.  These products will help to soothe the skin, not stop the progression of the reaction.

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