Radiation therapy is a method for treating cancer. It can be local (used on the tumor itself) or locoregional (used on the tumor and the surrounding lymph nodes. Ionizing radiation is used to destroy the tumor to prevent it from developing further or to eliminate potential cancerous cells that are still present after surgery.
What are post-radiation burns?
Radiation therapy destroys cancerous cells; however, healthy cells located in the same region of the body can also be affected. Because different tissues in the body react differently to ionizing radiation, post-radiation burns can appear where the treatment took place.
This is known as cutaneous erythema, which resembles a sunburn. These types of burns not only dry the skin but also cause itching. The symptoms usually subside a few weeks after the treatment; however, patients may experience permanent changes in their skin, such as the darkening of their skin or the appearance of scar tissues. The burns can also gradually appear as sores, which are not necessarily visible to the naked eye. If these types of sores develop, contact your doctor immediately.
How can I minimize the appearance of post-radiation burns?
Post-radiation burns are often treated to prevent bacterial infections. In several cases, your healthcare professional will prescribe ointments, such as Biafane or Eosine Aqueuse 2%, which can nevertheless cause negative side-effects with some people. These side-effects include photosensitivity, localized rashes, and moderate pain (stinging or tingling sensations) and transient pain upon application of the ointments.
Here are some recommendations to minimize post-radiation burns:
- Wear loose-fitting clothing made out of cotton or thread
- Use a soft, fragrance-free soap; apply it by gently patting the skin with a washcloth, rather than rubbing
- Before a radiation treatment, avoid alcohol-based perfumes and lotions as well as greasy creams; they can trigger superficial burns on the skin
- Avoid swimming in chlorine pools and exposure to the sun for at least three months after the end of your treatment.
- Choose creams and ointments wisely to prevent the stinging and pulling sensation you may experience between treatments.
Emu oil and post-radiation burns
Pure emu oil is an exceptional moisturizer that is 100% natural. It does not cause any side-effects and helps to reduce the symptoms of post-radiation burns. Emu oil is hypoallergenic, bacteriostatic (reduces the development of bacteria), and anti-inflammatory. It can be applied on the affected areas of your skin to help it regenerate. Using emu oil is risk-free as it is a 100% natural product.
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