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Managing the Visible Side Effects of Breast Cancer Treatments

Visible side effects of breast cancer treatments: Skin and nail changes continued...

Tips for handling skin and nail changes

For skin:

  • Check first with your oncology team before using any skin products. This includes lotions, powders, perfumes, creams, deodorants, body oils, or home remedies. Additives in products can worsen skin reactions. A cosmetologist may also provide some helpful guidelines.
  • Avoid detergents with dyes and perfumes.
  • Keep your skin clean and dry. Use a mild soap and pat your skin dry after bathing.
  • Use a rich moisturizer as recommended by your health care provider several times a day to help with dry skin.
  • Use sunscreen when in the sun.
  • Wear loose-fitting, natural fabrics such as cotton and silk.

For nails:

  • Cut nails short to minimize splitting.
  • Avoid artificial nails, which may increase the risk of infection. It is OK to use nail polish, but remove it with a non acetone-based remover, which is less drying.
  • Use a cuticle remover cream or gel, massaging it into your nails.
  • Don't bite or tear at your nails or cuticles.
  • Wear gloves when you garden or do housework.
  • Avoid professional manicures or bring your own sanitized instruments.
  • Limit the time you have your hands in water to lower the risk of fungal infections.

 Skin and nail changes usually go away when treatment ends.

The Look Good. . . Feel Better program for female cancer patients

The American Cancer Society has teamed up with the Personal Care Products Council and the National Cosmetology Association (NCA) to create Look good...Feel Better. This program teaches female cancer patients beauty techniques that can help restore appearance and self-image following cancer treatment.

For more information, call 1-800-395-LOOK or visit www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Arnold Wax, MD on June 26, 2012

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