Expert Advice for Looking Your Best During Cancer Treatment



Expert Advice for Looking Your Best During Cancer Treatment


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San Antonio Woman asked Dermatologist Dr. Allison Messer what advice she has for someone going through cancer treatment. Here’s what she recommends:


  1. Sunscreen and/or sun protective clothing: If using sunscreen, look for an SPF rating of 30 or greater and remember that most sunscreens are only effective for a maximum of 40-80 minutes, so reapply often or consider sun protective clothing which is measured by a UPF rating. Tinted sunscreens may also be helpful in protecting from visible light and UV radiation.
  2. Moisturizers: My favorites are Vaseline, Aquaphor, or Cerave Cream. Chemotherapy can cause the skin to become dry, which can be improved with these. They can also be used for radiation-related skin rashes. Finally, there are new data to show that moisturizing the nails daily during chemotherapy may decrease the incidence of nail changes related to chemotherapy.
  3. Dark nail polish: There are also some data suggesting that using dark nail polish while receiving chemotherapy may also decrease the incidence of nail changes.
  4. Adapalene gel: Available from many brands – the oldest and most reliable to me is Differin. Apply a pea-sized amount to the face to prevent fine lines and wrinkles and even out the skin tone. It can cause dryness on the first few applications but is ideally used daily once tolerated. Also available in stronger forms as a prescription.
  5. Hydrocortisone 1% cream: It can help relieve mild rashes related to chemotherapy. Can be used twice daily. If the rash is not improving or worsening after one week, contact your oncologist or dermatologist.



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Alison Messer, MD

Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at UT Health San Antonio


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