Using Lotions During Radiation

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

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Is it ok to put lotion on the area that is getting radiation to help with the dryness and burning?


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

During radiation therapy to the breast, we recommend that you use a mild, unscented soap for washing each day. A gentle moisturizer can be used daily as long as not on the skin right before the treatment. 2-3 hours before a water-soluble cream can be used, then after treatment and bedtime. The lotion is to treat dryness from radiation and dermatits that causes redness or itching.

Some products are marketed as specially for radiation. It is not known if more expensive creams are 'better' than common moisturizer lotions. There are small studies that have shown benefits to one cream over another. An over the counter lotion can be used in most cases, and a radiation oncologist or radiation nurse can recommend a specialty cream if needed depending on the degree of dermatitis during radiation.

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

Hypofractionated irradiation found non-inferior to standard radiation in node-negative breast cancer

Feb 11, 2010 - Whole-breast irradiation spread over fewer days (accelerated, hypofractionated radiation) following breast-conserving surgery for cancer appears non-inferior to standard radiation treatment, according to research published in the Feb. 11 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. This adds to a study recently released Online First in The Lancet Oncology, which showed that hypofractionated radiotherapy for breast cancer patients may provide a better quality of life with no evidence of an increase in adverse effects.

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