How to Deal With Skin Problems During Breast Cancer Treatment

A moisturizer with SPF 30 or higher can help skin problems caused by treatment.
Breast cancer treatment can give rise to a variety of skin problems, including itching, peeling, and infections. You can't always prevent them, but there are ways to tackle these conditions as they crop up.

Radiation in particular can make skin appear burned and irritated. "Your skin starts to get red and raw, and it peels—that was the most uncomfortable," says Kerry Apicella, a 62-year-old New Yorker who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005.Other potential side effects from radiation include:

  • Skin color changes: Fair skin may turn red, while darker complexions can become darker or ashen
  • Itching, burning, and tenderness
  • Dryness
  • Peeling
  • Darkening of freckles or moles
  • Increased risk for skin cancer (which makes it important to stay out of the sun while undergoing radiation treatment and for a few months afterward)

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Lead writer: Wendy Korn
Last Updated: August 25, 2008

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