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Skinstitut goes pink

Published: Thu October 17, 2013
Categories: General

With one in eight women being diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s 15,000 Australian women a year – most people will be touched by this terrible disease in some way.   Looking at strategies to maintain a positive mental attitude and self - esteem whilst undergoing treatment can make the journey a little easier. Changing to a more gentle approach to caring for the skin at this time is also recommended. Having good or bad skin can really affect our mood and the way we feel about ourselves. It is therefore no myth that looking good for many people really does help them feel good.   Changes to the skin are inevitable due to current or past cancer treatments, including traditional chemotherapy, radiation treatment or oral oncology medication. Gentle skincare regimes designed to soothe, nourish and protect the skin are recommended both during treatment and for the next 3 months post treatment (depending on the intensity of the treatment). It may take months for the skin to strengthen and be able to tolerate more intense skin treatments such as hydroxy acids and microdermabrasion. Topical application of antioxidants and vitamins is crucial at this time as the skin will be depleted of these vital nutrients. Look for ingredients that hydrate, strengthen and protect the skin such as- Olive Leaf extract, goji berry, hyaluronic acid, pomegranate seed, rose hip oil, Vitamin B, vitamin E, vitamin C. Avoid skincare and personal care products that include extra perfumes, dyes and paraben preservatives. Parabens may have oestrogen like activity in the body and should be avoided especially with oestrogen based cancers.     Ingredients that may be too intensive for a delicate skin-   Sodium lauryl sulphate, hydroxy acids, D&C dyes, benzoyl peroxide, retinoic acid, retinol, perfumes, parabens.   More intensive skin corrective ingredients such as retinol and glycolic acid can be gradually introduced up to six months after treatment to target skin concerns such as dullness and pigmentation that may be a result of the cancer treatments.     Ask your health care team what to expect for your specific cancer treatment. Knowing what to except will help you plan to manage any side effects during initial treatment as well as those that may last into the post-treatment period.   Chemotherapy   With traditional chemotherapy there may be changes to the mucous membrane such as dry mouth, taste changes and difficulty swallowing. Skin discoloration (yellowing and pigmentation) and changes in skin texture are also common. Skin blistering and peeling may also temporarily result from the treatment. Pigmentation may occur during and post treatment. The skin will be more sensitive and reactive during the treatment course and care should be taken to avoid over stimulation to the skin with harsh abrasive scrubs, hydroxy acids, strong detergent type washes and soaps   Radiation   Radiation treatments can cause symptoms at the site of the treatment, including dryness, itching, redness and thinning of the skin. Normally with radiation, skin changes start after treatment begins and may intensify during and after treatment.   Oral treatment therapies   With oral treatment therapies, a rash and acne-like changes can often manifest. These symptoms change and improve over time. Pigmentation may occur during and post treatment.  

Top 5 tips  

1) When you shower and bathe, keep the water tepid and not too hot. Avoid coloured and highly fragranced bath products          

2) Drink plenty of filtered water every day.          

3) Apply SPF 50 20 minutes before going outdoors. Avoid sunbathing as the skin may be more photosensitive and prone to burning.            

4) Include healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, organic meats and essential fats in your diet to keep your skin healthy from the inside out.          

5) If you are experiencing extreme changes, talk with your cancer treatment team. Many times they can evaluate the need for steroid creams or antibiotics to alleviate the symptoms.     Caring for the skin during this difficult time is just one way to make us feel better however for those that have entered into this new and frightening journey help is at hand.   Organisations such as Look good feel better offer workshops to help suffers look good and feel better all whilst having lots of fun and laughs.     37 yr. old breast cancer survivor Yvonne Hughes was inspired to write her own book to help others on a similar pathway.  Her book - One Piece of Advice: Words to guide you through early breast cancer. One Piece of Advice is a valuable resource for anyone going through breast cancer or supporting a loved one, and the advice is also suitable for a range of other cancers. One Piece of Advice is available for purchase RRP AU $24.95 plus postage and handling 10% of all profits go to Cancer Council NSW   So whether you need to know how to care for your own skin during chemotherapy, support a loved one or donate your time or money to this worthwhile cause, it’s time to think pink not purple for a change.     Love MM x

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