Caring for your skin and nails

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1 This information is an extract from the booklet Feel more like you. You may find the full booklet helpful. We can send you a free copy see page 8. Contents Introduction Changes to skin Changes to nails Introduction Cancer may be the toughest fight you have to face but remember you are not alone. You might start to see certain changes in your appearance during and after treatment. But Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors are here to help. Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisors are No7 Advisors, based in some Boots stores, who have been trained by Boots UK and Macmillan to provide support to people living with cancer. You may find that some of the side effects of treatment are having an impact on how you feel about yourself. If you want to manage or disguise any changes to your appearance, this leaflet has useful information to help you do this. This can go some way to helping you feel good again. As well as reading this information, you may also find it helpful to speak to a Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor. They can give you face to face advice about caring for your skin, nails and hair. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 1 of 8

2 Changes to skin Depending on the type of treatment you have, and how you react to it, your skin may become: dry more sensitive to sunlight sore in some areas, such as the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet redder (if you have light skin), or darker with a blue or black tinge (if you have dark skin) more sensitive to some underarm deodorants, perfumes or perfumed products. You may also develop a rash, particularly if you re being treated with a targeted therapy. If you develop any pain or a rash, tell your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team, as they can give you treatment that will help. Looking after dry skin If you have very dry skin, these tips may help: Clean your body with lukewarm water and non-perfumed bath and shower oils. Avoid using soap, as this will dry your skin out even more. If your skin feels sensitive or you re receiving targeted therapies as part of your treatment, avoid using perfumed or coloured skin products. Avoid long, hot showers or soaking in the bath, as hot water dries out the skin. Pat your skin dry with a clean, soft towel. Try these tips for cleansing your face: Use a gentle cleanser that won t strip the moisture out of your skin. Creamy formulations could be a good option, but make sure you apply the product carefully and avoid your eyes. Remove cleansers with a damp cotton wool pad or a clean, damp flannel. This will leave your skin feeling soft and clean. Page 2 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

3 If you re using a toner, stay away from products that contain alcohol, as these can also dry out your skin. A skin freshener without alcohol would be more suitable. My skin used to be quite oily, but chemotherapy changed it completely, and it became very dry and flaky. It was difficult going back to the drawing board everything I d normally use didn t really work for me any more. Vicki Whittaker-Stokes, 40, from Derby I had a lady in whose husband was going through cancer treatment and was having problems with dry skin. So I talked her through the options and recommended a moisturiser for men. Jay Hickson, Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor, Manchester Using moisturiser Use a moisturiser at least once a day on your face and body if you have dry skin. Some moisturising ingredients will help leave the skin feeling more comfortable and nourished. Look for rich and creamy moisturisers with some of the following ingredients: ceramides cholesterol glycerin hyaluronic acid shea butter or cocoa butter. Moisturisers that contain oatmeal can also be soothing for dry or sore skin. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 3 of 8

4 Try tying a muslin bag filled with oatmeal over your bath tap and letting the water run through. This is a great way to make bath-time a soothing and skin-softening experience. If your skin is very dry, it can become itchy. Using an emollient cream that contains oatmeal, menthol or 10% urea may help relieve the itchiness. Ask your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team for advice they may prescribe you something to reduce itching. If you re having radiotherapy or targeted therapies, the staff at the hospital will advise you on how to care for your skin. Check with them before using any skin products. Looking after oily skin The following tips will help you look after your skin during cancer treatment: A wash-off cleanser could be a good option if you have oily skin. Remember to work the cleanser into your skin well, before washing it off. Using a soft flannel or muslin cloth can help remove the last traces of cleanser, which can make your skin feel even cleaner. Be careful not to overwork your skin avoid exfoliating products or harsh products that strip the skin of moisture. A good cleanser and a light, oil-free moisturiser should help keep your skin in good condition. If your skin is usually oily, you may notice it becomes less so during chemotherapy treatment. Changes in your skin tone You may notice changes in skin tone as your treatment goes on. The following tips may help. Using foundation If you wear foundation, you may need to change from your usual shade. Choose a base colour that isn t visible at your jawline. A tinted moisturiser can work well if you re not used to wearing a lot of make-up. Or a light-coverage foundation will help even out the tone of your skin. Page 4 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

5 Applying a bronzer Use a make-up brush to apply a bronzer lightly to your forehead, cheekbones and chin to add natural-looking contour to your face. Start slowly when applying colour to your face begin by adding a small amount and gently build this up. The colour should look more natural if you use a large brush to apply the bronzer. You could speak to a Boots Macmillan Beauty Advisor about other make-up options to enhance your skin tone. Flushed skin A green-tinted primer can help tone down rosy skin and even out the colouring on your cheeks, nose and chin. But try to use these products sparingly. When applying the primer, pat it gently into your skin rubbing your skin could make the redness even worse. If you have flushed skin, try using a medium-coverage foundation with sun protection. Make sure the foundation matches the areas of your face that are less red. Pat the foundation over the primer to avoid disturbing it. Rashes or spots If you develop a rash, always get it checked by your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team straightaway. They will know the cause and be able to give you some advice. Some targeted therapies can cause a rash that looks very similar to acne. However, this rash isn t caused by acne, and anti-acne products will make the problem worse. Your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team can give you treatment that will help. General tips Whatever type of skin you have, the tips below may help: Protect yourself in the sun with minimum factor SP30 suncream with at least four or five UVA stars. Avoid staying in the sun, especially during the hottest times of the day. Wear a hat or scarf on your head when it s sunny. Wear loose clothes made of cotton or natural fibres. Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 5 of 8

6 Use petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline ) or a lip balm on dry or sore lips. If you re having radiotherapy, your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team may suggest using a watersoluble lubricant, such as K-Y Jelly, during your treatment. Protect your skin from the damage caused by scratching. Keep nails short using an emery board. Clean and rub the itchy area rather than scratching it. If you get a rash or itchy skin, speak to your cancer specialist who will prescribe medicines or creams. Use an electric shaver instead of wet-shaving to minimise the risk of cuts. If you ve had treatment in an area where you would normally shave, ask your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team for their advice about shaving. If the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet are sore, speak to your specialist. They may need to adjust the dosage of your treatment. Changes to nails Chemotherapy or targeted therapy may make your fingernails and toenails grow more slowly or become brittle or flaky. You may notice white lines appearing across them, or changes in the shape or colour of your nails. Nails may, on occasion, become painful and be lost altogether. If your nails become painful or swollen, see your cancer nurse specialist or oncology team, as this may be due to an infection that needs treatment. Nails should go back to normal after chemotherapy or targeted therapy ends. What you can do During treatment, there are a number of things you can do to manage and disguise changes to your nails: Use a nail-strengthening cream. Use a hand, foot and nail cream regularly. Nail varnish will help minimise the appearance of discoloured nails, but don t use nail varnish if your nails are split or sore. Page 6 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

7 Massaging a good cuticle cream into your cuticles will help prevent dryness, splitting and hangnails. Do not cut your cuticles. Use an emery board rather than cutting your nails. This will keep them short and smooth and avoid snagging. If you re filing your nails, draw the emery board across your nail in one direction only, instead of using a sawing action. This can help prevent nails splitting further. Wear gloves while doing household chores, especially the washing-up. Excessive exposure to water can lead to fungal infections of the nail bed. Don t use false nails during treatment or when nails are sore or damaged. Wear comfortable shoes that aren t too tight. Some people experience discoloured, dry, brittle and cracked nails during cancer treatment. Sometimes they have ridges or lines on their nails. In certain circumstances, nails can fall off due to treatment. I generally advise people experiencing these problems to wear gloves when washing up or gardening and to moisturise to protect their nails. Julie Kiernan, Macmillan Gynae-Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist, Manchester Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan Page 7 of 8

8 More information and support More than one in three of us will get cancer. For most of us it will be the toughest fight we ever face. And the feelings of isolation and loneliness that so many people experience make it even harder. But you don t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way. To order a copy of Feel more like you, visit be.macmillan. org.uk or call We make every effort to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and up to date but it should not be relied upon as a substitute for specialist professional advice tailored to your situation. So far as is permitted by law, Macmillan does not accept liability in relation to the use of any information contained in this publication, or thirdparty information or websites included or referred to in it. Macmillan Cancer Support Registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). Registered office 89 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7UQ REVISED IN AUGUST 2013 Planned review in 2016 Page 8 of 8 Questions about cancer? Ask Macmillan

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