Liver Cancer Awareness Month: Skin and Hair Care for Cancer Patients

Published: 21 October, 2020 16:03 IST | Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Dermato-Surgeon discusses changes in appearance, criticality of skin and hair care, and shares tips for hair and skin

Photo used for representational purposes. Pic/iStock
Photo used for representational purposes. Pic/iStock

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), 9.6 million people died from Cancer in 2018, which makes it the second leading cause of death globally. According to the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), liver cancer is the sixth most common type of cancer around the globe, with the highest incidence (roughly 83 percent) in low-income countries in Africa and Asia. In order to positively impact liver cancer survival rates, early detection is critical which can only happen when people are aware of risk factors and symptoms. With an aim to increase awareness and support, October is observed as Liver Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer treatments have advanced quite a lot in the last decade, however until we find a miracle medicine to cure cancer, surgical procedures, or use of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the use of steroids and other agents remains the common treatment option for cancer.  Cancer patients often have to undergo many treatments to remove cancerous cells.

This Liver Cancer Awareness Month, we spoke with Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Cosmetic Dermatologist, and Dermato-Surgeon at The Esthetic Clinics. Speaking about the impact of such treatments on patients, she said, “The same treatments that destroy the cancer cells have an adverse effect on the skin cells and hairs too. Not everyone faces the same side effects of cancer treatment and the severity depends on various factors such as the type of cancer, genetics, stage of treatment, and the body’s inherent metabolism. Cancer patients often see many changes in their appearance in terms of colour of the skin, dryness, acne, sensitivity to sunlight, itching, sores, peeling, allergies, hyperpigmentation, and alopecia (hair fall), etc.”

When asked about the significance of skin and hair care among cancer patients, Dr. Kapoor explained, “Our skin and hair protect us from many environmental dangers, irritants, and chemicals. It is not just about looking good, it is also about preventing infection and the risk of damage to the skin and the immune system. Therefore, skin and hair care becomes more imperative for cancer patients in order to heal well and they should be very careful with skin and hair care before, during, and after the cancer treatments.  Rather than waiting for the last minute to take for skin and hair care, cancer patients should start with changes in their CTM routine as early as possible and continue the same regimen during the treatment. This will give the body the time to adapt through the new routine.”

Below, she lists down dermatologist recommended basic skin and hair care tips for cancer patients.

Skin Care for Cancer Patients

  1. The first step is to switch your daily moisturizing routine to one for super sensitive skin. Look for products that are gentle, hydrating, and hypoallergenic.
  2. Don’t buy or use products that contain fragrance, alcohol, preservative, and botanical essential oil as they contain allergens and can cause irritation to the skin.
  3. Avoid long, hot showers or baths as they rob the skin of essential moisture.
  4. Switch your laundry detergent to gentle and fragrance-free.
  5. Apply heavy hydrating moisturizer within 10 minutes of showering.
  6. Reapply moisturizers every time you wash your hands or body and make sure that you always moisturize your skin before going to bed.
  7. Creams containing ammonium lactate increase moisture and are suitable for dry and flaky skin.
  8. Sun protection is very essential for cancer patients. Always wear a high SPF sunscreen whenever going out and the sunscreen should contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone. Apply more sunscreen than recommended; wear a hat, gloves, protective eyewear before going out. Reapply sunscreen every two hours.
  9. Remove exfoliation from the skincare routine and stop using scrubs, AHAs, retinol, and glycolic acid.
  10. Use oral or topical antibiotics or mild anti-acne creams to treat severe acne.  Don’t buy OTC creams that contain stronger concentrations of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as they dry the skin.
  11. Visit your dermatologist every year for an annual skin check-up even after the cancer treatments have stopped.

Hair Care for Cancer Patients

Hair fall and damage is not only limited to the head, cancer patients often see changes in the hair on eyebrows, eyelashes, and other parts of their bodies. Hair loss progresses more quickly once the cancer treatment starts. Most people suffer from hair loss during cancer treatments and here are few tips that can help you deal with it

  1. Cut your hair short as it will help prevent the damaged caused by pulling.
  2. Chose a gentle and fragrance-free shampoo for your hair. Wash your hair twice a week and that too very gently. Use a detangler conditioner to make it easy to comb.
  3. Don’t rub your hair dry instead pat it dry gently.
  4. Use a soft bristle, wide-toothed comb to style your hair gently. Do not pull on the tangles.
  5. Avoid using treatments like perming, curling, colouring, straightening during and before the treatment.
  6. Protect your scalp from the sun by using sunscreen, hats, caps, turbans, scarves, etc. to cover your hair.
  7. Chose a soft and smooth pillowcase to avoid static and try to sleep on your back.

Hair Care Post Cancer Treatment

  1. New hair growth after cancer treatment may be different from the original one. Consult with your dermatologist to explore the options available for you to aid for hair growth.
  2. QR678 hair regrowth treatment: QR678 is the revolutionary non-surgical hair treatment that gives excellent results for post-chemotherapy cancer patients. QR678 is a mix of essential growth factors that when injected in the scalp provides the essential nutrients to the hair follicles and stimulates natural hair growth. QR678 does not have any side effects and the results are long-lasting healthier hair.
  3. Cold cap therapy/ Scalp cryotherapy: This cap needs to be worn before, during, and after chemotherapy. It cools the scalp to prevent hair loss because of drugs.
  4. OTC medications: Minoxidil, Finasteride, and Spironolactone are the three most common forms of drugs available to stimulate hair growth. However, their results are temporary and hair loss starts again as soon as you stop using them.

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