Radiotherapy can cause skin to react in various ways; you might notice changes in colour, rashes, soreness, itchiness, burning or swelling. It’s known as radiation dermatitis or radiation-induced skin reaction (RISR). It can be a distressing additional thing to be dealing with at such a vulnerable time.
So what can you do to soothe the sore or itchy skin? The standard advice for looking after your skin during and after radiotherapy is to find a neutral, unscented emollient that can keep skin hydrated and allow it get on with the job of healing itself. But which natural creams might be appropriate?
There’s good evidence to suggest that both aloe vera and calendula are really helpful natural ingredients for itchy skin after radiotherapy, with calendula being shown to reduce pain, skin reactions and pain, and aloe vera to relieve itchiness and heat.
Calendula is one of Balmonds’ mainstays. You can find it in Skin Salvation, Daily Moisturising Cream, Balmonds Cooling Cream, and as a macerated oil in Intensive Hand Cream and Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil. Any of those products would give a seriously anti-inflammatory boost to delicate or itchy skin.
Try using aloe vera to cool things down as well. Either use a 100% aloe preparation on the sore area, or try Balmonds Cooling Cream, which contains aloe, lavender and menthol in a shea butter base.
Moisturise the area well before treatment. You can use a balm like Skin Salvation several times a day, and last thing at night, to give your skin some deep hydration.
Moisturise well after treatment too! Use whatever feels most comfortable to you, whether that’s a heavier balm like Skin Salvation at night and a lighter cream (such as Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream, Intensive Hand Cream or Cooling Cream) during the day.
If even balms or creams are too heavy for your sensitive skin, smooth on some Bath & Body Oil instead, especially after bathing.
See Radiotherapy Essentials: A Kit List for more ideas of what can help you or a loved one through radiotherapy, and How To Look After Your Skin Before, During And After Chemotherapy for a detailed guide to radio- or chemotherapy skincare.
Recommended products to look after skin during radiotherapy:
Daily Moisturising Cream with calendula, shea & hemp seed oil, from £13.99 for 100ml
Intensive Hand Cream with seabuckthorn, calendula, chamomile & shea, from £10.99 for 50ml
Cooling Cream with menthol, aloe, lavender & calendula, £19 for 100ml
Skin Salvation with hemp seed, beeswax & calendula, from £7.99 for 30ml
Balmonds Rosehip Scar Oil with rosehip, lavender, calendula & chamomile, £18.99 for 50ml
Balmonds Bath & Body Oil with chamomile, hemp & lavender, £12.99 for 200ml
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.