Better skin throughout cancer

Caring for skin and feeling better during cancer treatments

Impact of cancer treatments on skin

Share this article

During treatment, the skin undergoes changes throughout the body. These are called “cutaneous side effects”. These changes depend on which treatment is being offered to the cancer patient. 
They do not occur systematically, as each person will have a specific reaction, and most of the effects are reversible after the treatment has ended. 
These body changes can be balanced and relieved with appropriate dermo-cosmetic care.

The working group European SKIn Management in Oncology (ESKIMO) has analysed and identified the various side effects of treatments and has proposed recommendations of suitable dermo-cosmetic care products. This section is a guide of best practices and products which may help limit and prevent the cutaneous side effects of cancer treatments. 
These valuable dermo-cosmetic hygiene tips will help improve patients’ daily lives during their illness.

“Daily cosmetic care is essential to protect the skin from aggressive cancer treatments. It is the key to a better quality of life during treatments.”  Professor Brigitte Dréno*

Do not hesitate to ask your medical team (doctor, oncologist, dermatologist, nurses) about cutaneous effects of cancer treatments.

Learn more about the effects of the different cancer treatments

Summary of the key prevention measures before treatment

To do
To avoid
Prevent cutaneous infections while grooming

Cleansing gels without soap (syndet, dermatological bar, milk) that respect the acidic pH of the skin (5.5)

Ordinary soaps without physiological pH greater than 5.5 and Lotions with alcohol, perfumes, deodorant with fragrances

Prevent sunburns

Use photoprotection when outdoors year-round (anti UVA high to very high / anti UVB: SPF 50)

Sun exposure without protection
Caution: remember that UVAs are not filtered out by windows or clouds

Nail care

Protect your nails with a strengthening nail polish

Repeated manicures and/or pedicures
Cutting your nails too short
Foot baths in hot water

Prevent any kind of trauma

Wear suitable shoes
Wear gloves when performing manual tasks
Take short showers at appropriate temperatures
Dry your skin without rubbing

Shoe friction
Water that is too hot or too cold
Long baths or showers
Rubbing the skin with a towel

Livret pharmaciens – gérer les effets secondaires cutanés des thérapies anti-cancer. [Booklet for pharmacists – managing the cutaneous side effects of cancer treatments.
ESKIMO group round table: Bensadoun RJ, Dreno B, Humbert P, Krutmann J, Luger T, Rougier A, Triller R.

*Updated in May 2016 by
Professor Brigitte Dréno 
Director of the Department of Dermato Cancerology
Director of the Unit of Gene and Cell Therapy
Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Medicine Nantes France