- Cancer Information
- Cancer treatment
- Radiation therapy
- Managing radiation therapy side effects
- Skin problems
Depending on the part of the body treated, external beam radiation therapy may make skin in the treatment area dry and itchy. Your skin may look red, sunburnt or tanned. Less commonly, it may peel and feel painful. Skin changes often start 10–14 days after the first treatment. They often get worse during treatment, before improving in the weeks after treatment.
You may need dressings and creams to help the area heal, avoid infection and make you more comfortable. Pain medicine can help if the skin is very sore. Let your radiation therapy team know about skin changes, such as cracks or blisters, moist areas, rashes, infections, swelling or peeling.
Taking care of your skin
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
Dr Madhavi Chilkuri, Radiation Oncologist, Townsville Cancer Centre, The Townsville Hospital, and Dean, RANZCR Faculty of Radiation Oncology, QLD; Polly Baldwin, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Patricia Hanley, Consumer; Prof Michael Hofman, Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging Physician, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Leanne Hoy, Cancer Nurse Consultant, GenesisCare, VIC; Sharon King, Accredited Practising Dietitian, TAS; Dr Yoo Young (Dominique) Lee, Radiation Oncology Consultant, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD; Dr Wendy Phillips, Senior Medical Physicist, Department of Radiation Oncology, Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA; Katrina Rech, Radiation Therapist and Quality Systems Manager, GenesisCare, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
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