How to care for your skin during and after cancer treatment

Nuala Carey (pharmacist and owner of and popular blogger Helen Murphy (@daily_divadiary) are holding a virtual coffee morning via Helen’s Instagram page on Tuesday January 24 at 10am to discuss skincare throughout cancer and chemotherapy.  

An in-person coffee morning will also be held in Glengarriff Pharmacy on the day with all proceeds going towards ARC House which supports cancer patients and their families across Cork and Kerry.

When patients are undergoing treatment for cancer, their skin might not be the first thing they think of in terms of side-effects.

Yet, nearly all cancer treatments – including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiotherapy – have the potential to cause skin reactions. While these reactions can vary widely depending on the type and length of treatment, as well as individual factors, they can be physically painful and have a real impact on self-esteem and wellbeing during the whole treatment process. 

No two patients will have the same experience of going through cancer and the treatments that follow diagnosis, but there are some common skin symptoms people present to us at Glengarriff Pharmacy.

Cancer patients often experience rashes that can be itchy or painful, and swollen hands or feet can cause real discomfort too. Sometimes, the mucous lining in a patient’s mouth and genital areas will be damaged by treatment, resulting in painful sores. Treatment can also make it difficult for people to eat or drink, and poor nutrition can have a knock-on effect on their skin.

As we know, the skin is the biggest organ in the body, and it also acts as the body’s first line of defence.  Patients going through cancer treatment already have a weakened immune system, and, if their skin barrier becomes compromised, there is even greater potential for infection.  

Sometimes people experience severe blistering rashes and nail changes, which can easily become infected and lead to more serious widespread infections, and so it is important to maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and to optimise skin health as far as possible, before, during, and after treatment.  

Rather than waiting to deal with symptoms, you can get ahead by beginning a safe skin regime at least a week before cancer treatment starts.  To manage the dryness treatments can cause and prevent and manage skin changes, we recommend that you:

• Avoid long, hot showers or baths.

• Use gentle, fragrance-free, dermatologist-approved skincare suitable for patients undergoing treatment.

• Use creams, ointments, or balms rather than thinner lotions, as their consistency is better at preventing skin dehydration.

• Choose gentle, enriching, and nurturing products suitable for sensitive skin.   

• Apply your chosen moisturiser within 15 minutes of showering to maximise absorption.

• Use a sunscreen with at least an SPF30 that protects against UVA and UVB rays if you are undergoing chemotherapy, which can make skin more sensitive to sunlight and prone to sunburn.

We are regularly asked, in the pharmacy and online, about skincare that is safe for cancer patients to use, and we recommend products from La Roche Posay. The skincare company is leading the charge in this area and has already invested in over 10 years of extensive research, working closely with dermatologists and oncologists worldwide. 

La Roche Posay’s Lipikar and Cicaplast ranges, together with their thermal waters, are safe, clinically tested and dermatologist-approved to help manage the skin changes cancer, and cancer treatments, can bring.  

At, we have 20 per cent off these ranges throughout January.  Why not shop now at to start your skincare journey or support a loved one with skincare they can trust.

 Please visit Facebook or Instagram @glenpharmacy for details of the coffee morning.

WCP Staff

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