During a course of radiotherapy people may develop a skin reaction in the area being treated, or an exit rash (when the radiotherapy beam causes a reaction in the area opposite to where it goes in).
This reaction may worsen for the next 10-14 days and usually improves by 4 weeks after treatment (but may take longer if the skin blistered or peeled).
Affected skin appearance
The affected skin may:
- Becomes pink or darken, depending on skin colour
- Feel sore or itchy
- Blister or peel
- Moisturisers and skin care (see below) for milder reactions, somtimes with mild steroid creams for itching (e.g. 1% hydrocortisone cream)
- Specialised dressings for very sore, broken, blistering or peeling skin
- Antibiotics for skin reactions that have become infected i.e. if the area of redness is spreading or the skin is oozing
- Pain relief
- Very rarely treatment may be stopped for a short time to allow a serious skin reaction to recover
Skin care after radiotherapy
- Wear loose-fitting clothes made from natural fibres, such as cotton
- Wash and dry skin gently (don't rub it)
- Avoid very hot things e.g. heating pads or very hot water
- Moisturise the skin regularly
- Use your usual deoderant and moisturiser (unless these cause any irritation)
- Avoid plasters or tape near the treated area
- Avoid shaving, hair removal treatments or applying make-up close to the treated area
- Protect the treated area from the sun (during treatment and for at least one year after finishing the course)
The attached patient leaflet (see downloads) gives further information on skin care and well-being after radiotherapy.