You’re so desperate for relief from pain and itching, you may be tempted to apply anything from your bathroom cupboard…but wait! Never use anything on the irritated site without discussing it first with your healthcare provider (whether the product is natural or not). Most doctors suggest skipping all skincare products for at least 4 hours before treatment, but recommend using moisturizers or cooling gels the day after. (Click here for additional specifications.)
Your healthcare provider may recommend helpful emollients or creams (like Aquaphor) for you to apply consistently to the treated area. However, as you know, we’re not thrilled about the mineral oil and petro-chemicals in many of these ointments. A recent study explained that, “Chronic exposure to poorly refined base oils has the potential to cause skin cancer…,” because they are deleterious to product performance and are potentially carcinogenic. A cancer fighter at Cancer Compass elaborated, “I tried Aquaphor and found it sticky, and my skin actually felt itchier after I applied it.” Another added, “I am worried about the petroleum base and the chemicals applied to such a tender area.” (Click here to read our top 21 ingredients to avoid and the here to read more about the dangers and alternatives to petroleum-based products.)
Luckily, most cancer fighters agree on a few simple tips for easing discomfort: use ice on the area for short periods of time, apply a cooling spray to numb the pain (especially if it’s too tender to use cream). We suggest CV Skinlabs’ Rescue + Relief Spray, which offers immediate relief if stored in the refrigerator. In addition, many patients have used a combination of water, salt and baking soda for open sores, or calendula-based creams. (See article, “Calendula May Help Radiation-Related Skin Pain.”) You may even try something as simple as applying a cool, wet wash cloth to bring relief, but make sure to only use clean washcloths, and launder them after each use to prevent bacteria from forming.
To treat affected areas, physicians generally suggest using Biafine and Silvadene creams or Damboro soaks (as well as products like Benadryl) to relieve any itching. While those variations may work for severe cases, we recommend trying natural gels or creams that are void of toxins first, as many patients have found they sometimes work better than what the doctor recommends. Choose creams or gels that contain calendula, Aloe Vera, vitamin E, and honey, and keep them in the refrigerator for extra cooling benefits. (Try CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm, or Jurlique’s Calendula Cream.)
For areas that are too tender to touch, choose cooling sprays like Rescue + Relief Spray. Although the numbing ingredient lidocaine is often used for post-surgical and radiation pain relief, try calming and soothing the afflicted areas with products that use Melaluca oil instead (it’s used in most burn-aiding products). For other herbal-remedy suggestions, please click here. When in doubt, always make sure to read the labels thoroughly, and avoid toxic ingredients like parabens, synthetic fragrances, and dyes at all costs.
* Have you ever dealt with radiation burns? Have any advice to help others? Please share with us!
Photo courtesy of Flickr