Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Radiation Burn Treatments

Preparing for Radiation Therapy

Changes in the skin because of exposure to radiation are often classified as burns. The damage to the skin is caused by the ionizing effects of radiation rather than heat. The depth and severity of the wound, burn or irritation depends on the intensity and frequency of the exposure. While accidental radiation exposure is possible, most cases of radiation burns are among patients who are undergoing radiation therapy as part of cancer treatment.


Keeping your skin clean is the first step to minimizing and treating skin irritation caused by radiation. Use a gentle, non-alkaline soap, avoid oily or perfumed soaps, and use warm water rather than hot water. Gently pat your skin dry rather than rubbing it and don't be alarmed if your skin may be reddened--this is normal. For radiation treatments or exposure to the head, choose a gentle, non-medicated shampoo like baby shampoo.


Your skin needs moisture to heal properly. Radiation damages your skin and compromises its ability to retain moisture. To soothe your skin, apply skin preparations that contain no petroleum products, alcohol or menthol. Hydrophilic lotions or creams are effective choices, as is natural aloe vera gel. Your doctor can also recommend a brand of lotion or cream, or even prescribe one for you. Pat the lotion or cream gently onto your skin; do not rub. If your skin is unbroken, you can use powder on your skin, but powders tend to be drying rather than moisturizing, so use sparingly.

Inflammation and Infection

If your skin is inflamed, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream. These creams should be used only as directed to prevent further damage to your skin. Steroid creams cannot be used on skin that is broken. If your skin is broken, your doctor may provide special treatment to help prevent infection, particularly since your immune system may be compromised if you are undergoing treatment for cancer. In the case of open wounds, broken skin, or broken and weeping skin, your doctor may prescribe silver sulfadiazine cream or suggest treatment in a hyperbaric chamber. If you develop a break in your skin while using a steroid cream, notify your doctor right away.

Tags: your skin, your skin, rather than, your doctor, broken your, doctor prescribe