Treating Blisters From Radiation

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing
Last Modified: December 13, 2011

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What should I do for the blisters that I am getting from radiation treatment?


Gary Freedman, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn , responds:

Radiation dermatitis can be treated with many approaches depending on the severity.

Early mild redness can be treated with gentle lotions or creams. Areas of peeling or blistering can be treated with cool compresses, and various products. At the Abramson Cancer Center, nurses will mix up a Domeboro's solution to be used as a cool compress and cleanser. There are other products as well.

Pain can be managed by topical creams like aquaphor, or mixed with a lidocaine gel to provide temporary relief. Itching can be treated with hydrocortisione cream.

Some creams are marketed as specially formulated for breast cancer dermatitis during radiation. There is XClair by prescription, Biafine, and Miaderm to give some examples. There are some small studies, but it is not clear that one cream is more beneficial than other. It is not known if an inexpensive vitamin A and D cream is as good as a more expensive lotion.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat. Series, View the Life After Breast Cancer transcript.

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