8 Tips to Care for Your Breasts During Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is often used as part of a comprehensive treatment program for breast cancer. Unfortunately, during treatment, you can experience some side effects, including redness and itchy skin. If you are currently undergoing radiation therapy, here are some tips to help you manage the skin-related side effects of treatment.  

  1. Bathe in lukewarm water. Radiation therapy can cause a sunburn-like effect on your skin. If you bathe in hot water, the irritation you are experiencing can worsen. Lukewarm water is warm enough to cleanse your skin without furthering the irritation.  

  2. Avoid using harsh soaps and perfumed products. Harsh soaps and perfumed products often contain agents that dry the skin, which can worsen the irritation from the radiation therapy. Look for perfume-free cleansers that contain moisturizers instead.  

  3. Use an anti-fungal cream on your breasts. One of the side effects of radiation therapy for breast cancer is an increased likelihood of having a yeast infection. If you notice the skin under your breasts are particularly itchy or have a white substance on the skin, an anti-fungal cream can help prevent the infection from developing further. 

  4. Avoid skin-on-skin contact. While going through treatment, your skin will likely be sensitive and sometimes extremely dry. Try to keep your arm from touching your breasts. You also need to consider placing a cloth between your breasts and beneath them to keep them from touching your other skin. 

  5. Wear loose-fitting clothing. Your clothing can sometimes rub against your breasts and cause soreness. Whenever possible, try to wear loose cotton clothing.  

  6. Skip the creams and deodorant. Until your oncologist advises otherwise, avoid putting any creams or deodorant on or near the treatment site. To keep your skin moisturized, use an antibiotic ointment that contains moisturizer.  

  7. Do not use loofahs. A loofah or brush can cause the skin in the treatment area to feel raw and add to the irritation you are feeling. While going through treatment, use a washcloth instead. Remember to pat at your skin with the washcloth instead of scrubbing. 

  8. Apply cornstarch to your affected skin. Dampness on your skin can leave you vulnerable to infection. Cornstarch can help to soak up moisture on your skin and also serve as a freshener since you need to avoid scented powders.  

Consult with your oncologist about other ways you can care for your breasts and other skin areas while undergoing radiation therapy in your fight against cancer. Keeping your skin in good condition is a vital part of your recovery.