Skin Care After Cancer Treatment: How to Heal and Improve Skin

June is National Cancer Survivor Month, which is dedicated to celebrating the survivorship of those who have faced a cancer diagnosis. As survivors navigate their lives after cancer, they may face other challenges during and after cancer treatment. Specifically, those who have recently finished treatment may experience some issues with their skin. Fortunately, these adverse effects can be prevented, controlled, and treated by taking the right approach to skin care after cancer treatment.

In honor of National Cancer Survivor Month, we’re discussing how cancer survivors can combat those skin issues and feel both comfortable and confident after treatment.

How Cancer Treatment Can Affect the Skin

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation are necessary to combat the disease. However, they can take a toll on a patient’s hair, nails, and skin. The skin conditions resulting from treatment are generally mild, but they can often be extremely uncomfortable and noticeable. And because of this, those who have undergone treatment may feel self-conscious about their appearance.

Before discussing skin care after cancer treatment, it’s worth highlighting some of the most common problems…

Common Skin Problems After Chemotherapy

Skin problems that result from chemotherapy may include the following:

  • Dryness (xerosis)
  • Itchiness (pruritus)
  • Redness
  • Photosensitivity
  • Pigmentation changes
  • Rashes

Occasionally, patients will experience pimple-like breakouts over their skin as well.

The American Cancer Society notes that these “skin rashes can show up on the scalp, face, neck, chest, upper back, and sometimes on other parts of the body. Rashes can itch, burn, sting, or be painful. They usually develop within a few weeks of receiving the treatment, but can develop at any time during (or after) your cancer treatment.”

A patient’s cancer care team may recommend topical solutions such as mild soaps, lotions, and moisturizers to combat these issues or even prescribe medication to help with the rash.

Common Skin Problems After Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy can also cause problems with a patient’s skin. The treatment can make skin feel and appear swollen, blistered, or burned. And after that, the skin can become dry and flaky or even peel, like what happens after a severe sunburn. This reaction is referred to as radiation dermatitis, and it’s extremely common. In fact, more than 90% of individuals who receive radiation therapy suffer from some level of radiation dermatitis or experience radiation burn.

7 Tips for Skin Care After Cancer Treatment

Doctor examining her cancer patient’s skin before recommending products for skin care.

The good news is that most skin problems accompanying cancer treatment can be resolved. Proper skin care after cancer treatment is crucial, as patients need to be careful with their skin. Treating skin gently and encouraging healing through the use of quality products and specific skin care routines will help with the recovery process.  

Those who have completed cancer treatment should always consult their cancer care team or a specialist before adopting any new skin care routine. This is especially important during cancer treatments. Only after treatment is complete should an individual start following any outside recommendations, and then only under the advice of specialists.  

That said, if you or a loved one is suffering from skin problems after treatment—and has been given the go-ahead by a specialist—the following tips may help.

1) Be Gentle with Skin 

First things first—treating skin with a gentle touch is a must. Patients shouldn’t rub, scratch, or scrub problem areas. When cleansing, individuals should wash carefully using warm water (not extremely hot or cold water). 

2) Protect Skin from the Sun 

Although sun protection should be included in everyone’s skin care routine, it’s an especially important part of skin care after cancer treatment. Those who have undergone chemotherapy or radiation should take the following steps:

  • Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF rating. 
  • Wear hats and other UV-protective clothing before heading outdoors. 
  • Don’t forget to apply SPF to the lips.

3) Avoid Products with Alcohol

Alcohol in skin products can lead to dryness, redness, and irritation. Given that these are already side effects of cancer treatment, using any products that contain alcohol can make skin problems worse. So, individuals should read ingredient labels carefully and avoid those that have alcohol listed.

4) Use a Mild Cleanser

When it comes to skin care after cancer treatment, mild is the way to go. This means opting for a cleanser with little to no fragrance and a low pH. It’s best to look for cleansers designed for sensitive skin and steer clear of those that contain the following:

  • BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids)
  • Salicylic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Harsh exfoliants
  • Beads

Once enough time has passed, and the skin has calmed down, individuals can slowly incorporate more potent products into their routines. 

5) Moisturize Regularly

There’s no question that moisturizing is key to caring for skin after cancer treatment. Moisturizing regularly can soothe dry, itchy, or otherwise irritated skin. So, individuals should aim to apply a moisturizer containing skin-calming and hydrating ingredients (e.g., ceramides, urea, lactic acid) at least twice a day.  

6) Consider Applying a Serum

Adding a serum to one’s daily skin regimen may help combat dullness and discoloration after cancer treatment. Look for a serum containing vitamin C, peptides, retinol, or plant extracts. If there are no side effects after performing a patch test, apply the serum before moisturizing.

7) Don’t Forget to Hydrate Lips

Dry, chapped lips are also typical after cancer treatment and should be given attention. Although it’s tempting to reach for the same balms used before treatment, they may worsen the problems. So, hydrate lips with a soothing lip treatment that does not contain fragrance, essential oils, or lip-plumping ingredients. 

How the iS CLINICAL Brand and Its Products Stand Out

Those looking for suitable at-home skin products should consider iS CLINICAL. The brand’s science-based approach to skin care uses carefully researched formulas to deliver outstanding results. And it’s highly recommended for skin care after cancer treatment.

Each product offered by iS CLINICAL Skincare has years of testing and research behind it to back up the praise and acclaim it receives from skin care experts, doctors, and even celebrities. The results from using these products speak for themselves. 

The company’s philanthropic efforts, such as the iS Cancer Care® program, reflect their dedication to their consumer base and their desire to stand out from a crowd of companies making run-of-the-mill beauty and skin products. iS CLINICAL works hard to ensure the wellness of cancer patients and all the customers who trust them with their skin care routine.

Long-Time Support of Breast Cancer Research

Each year during the month of October, iS CLINICAL contributes 100% of all profits from the sale of Poly-Vitamin Serum to the National Breast Cancer Coalition. The Poly-Vitamin Serum “was designed and intended for compromised skin.” Because of this, it has become widely recommended for those undergoing cancer treatments.

The iS Cancer Care Program

The iS Cancer Care Program helps patients battling or recovering from cancer treatments with the physical and emotional challenges before them. The program’s goal is to provide skin solutions and education programs for patients and offer them a sense of hope. Since launching the program more than a decade ago, it has been adopted by many well-known institutions across the country, including The Cleveland Clinic and The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. 


While lifesaving chemotherapy and radiation treatments can make a positive difference in one’s cancer journey, they also can cause unwanted skin problems. That’s why proper skin care after cancer treatment is essential. Adopting a new regimen focused on healing and improving the complexion can be the path to rejuvenating damaged skin. Those who use the iS CLINICAL line of products after cancer treatments are over can feel confident that their skin will continue to improve.If you or a loved one is interested in shopping for iS CLINICAL products, stop by Ethos MedSpa today to learn more and browse the wide range of options we have in stock.

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