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Coping With Skin and Nail Problems Related to Chemotherapy
- You develop sudden or severe itching
- Your skin breaks out in a rash or hives
- You have wheezing or any other trouble breathing
- Have severe difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or feel faint
- Experience extreme swelling or hives on your face, or in your mouth, or eyes
How Can I Cope With Skin and Nail Problems?
- Try to keep your face clean and dry.
- Ask your doctor or nurse if you can use over-the-counter medicated creams or soaps.
- Use cornstarch instead of powder to help with itching.
- To help avoid dryness, take quick showers or sponge baths. Do not take long, hot baths. Use a moisturizing soap.
- Pat yourself dry after bathing. Do not rub.
- Apply cream and lotion while your skin is still moist.
- Avoid perfumes, colognes, or alcohol-based products.
- Use an oatmeal bath for generalized itching.
- You can buy nail-strengthening products in a drug store. Be aware that these products may bother your skin and nails.
- Protect your nails by wearing gloves when washing dishes, gardening, or doing other work around the house.
- Be sure to let your doctor know if you have redness, pain, or changes around the cuticles which may mean an infection.
- Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible, especially between 10 AM-4 PM when the sun's rays are the strongest.
- Use a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of 15 or higher to protect against sun damage. A product such as zinc oxide , sold over- the-counter, can block the sun's rays completely.
- Use a lip balm with an SPF of 15 or higher.
- Wear long-sleeve cotton shirts, light-colored pants, and hats with a wide brim (particularly if you have hair loss), to block the sun.
- Do not use tanning beds.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov
BC Cancer Agency http://www.bccancer.bc
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Chemotherapy and you. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/coping/chemotherapy-and-you.pdf. Updated June 2011. Accessed February 5, 2014.
Understanding chemotherapy: a guide for patients. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/treatmenttypes/chemotherapy/understandingchemotherapyaguideforpatientsandfamilies/understanding-chemotherapy-more-side-effects-skin-and-nail-changes. Updated March 17, 2013. Accessed February 5, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Update Date: 02/05/2014