Let’s face it: cancer and cancer treatments change your body, skin, hair, and nails, and that means you need to alter your daily habits. Those long, luxurious soaks in hot water may have felt good before, but now-since your skin is probably dry, irritated, fragile, and delicate-they’re likely to make things worse. Hot water robs the skin of its own moisture, breaking down the natural oils and increasing dryness.
That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a little luxury. If bathing is your thing, make sure the tub is clean before you step in. You’re more prone to infection, so take the extra time to disinfect, and use toxic-free, eco-friendly cleaners.
(You don’t want to soak in a toxic brew.) Tone down the temperature to lukewarm and add about a cup of ground oatmeal, which will soothe skin and relieve itching. (Other beneficial soaks: San Francisco Bath Salts, Bokek’s Dead Sea Salt, or Sheba’s Secrets natural bath teas.) Other patients enjoy the moisturizing effects of almond or jojoba oils-even pure honey and evaporated milk. Light a few naturally scented candles or release homemade scents by placing rose, mint, or lavender leaves in a fabric bag and hanging it under the faucet. Play some soothing music, drink a cup of chamomile tea, and as you relax your tired body and calm your senses, you may find you don’t miss the steam at all.
For everyday showering, short, tepid sprays are better than long, hot ones-again, to keep your skin from drying out. If you use soap (which is too drying), switch to a moisturizing, chemical-free shower gel like Living Nature for dry and itchy skin, or California Baby Wash for sensitive skin. Avoid aggressive shower puffs and gently wash with your hands instead.
Whether you take a shower or a bath, use a soft towel afterward (try extra-soft, organic Bamboo bath towels) and go easy on your skin. Make sure your towels were washed with toxin-free, mild and unscented detergents to reduce allergies and irritation. Pat, don’t rub or tug yourself dry, and leave your skin a little damp-it will be more likely to retain moisturizer. Use products that are a little richer than lotions and moisturize well every day. We like toxic-free formulas from Nature’s Paradise Organics, or Burt’s Bees Honey and Shea body cream.
Sometimes, standing in the shower or sitting up in the bath is just too much. A helpful gizmo is the shower chair-which you can also use in the bath. These come in many styles. Choose one that’s right for you and take a load off while rinsing. If there comes a day you just can’t get out of bed, you can still enjoy the comfort of a clean head of hair by enlisting the help of a friend or loved one and employing a shampoo basin, which allows you to have your hair washed without having to toss off the blankets.
However you bathe, if you’re going through treatment, care for yourself enough to alter your habits for awhile. When it’s over, you can go back to the steam-and you may just take some of your new, healthier products with you.
Know some helpful bathing tips for tender, irritated skin? Let us know!
Photo courtesy of Snap Village