Radiation Burn

About 3 days after finishing 15 days of external beam radiation of tumor on left femoral head I developed radiation burn in the area. Hadn't experienced that on two previous occasions I had radiation. Just lucky I guess, after a little research I learned about 80-90% of radiation patients experience some degree of radiation burn after or during treatment. I' m told it should heal in about 2 to 4 weeks. Oncologists gave me some ointment to use on it.

5 Replies

  • My doctor said to use natural coconut butter. You can get it at Wal-Mart and it's cheap. It really does work!

    And if you read the label, you can cook with it or use it for a spread.

    It tastes like coconut!

    My burns were right over my bladder, both hips and my backside. I had 40 treatments of radiation.

    I couldn't wear jeans and sweat pants would fall off, so I wear bibbs overalls.

    Hope this works for you!

  • Chascri, I guess that having the radiation burn lets you know that they really did something while you laid on the table! Kidding aside, I do have some pointers.

    Radiation therapy for cancer treatment is non-specific and kills not only cancer cells, but also healthy cells. A common side effect of radiation is radiation burn which causes the skin to peel. This skin damage can occur within 1 to 2 weeks of treatment and usually resolves itself over time once the treatment period is complete.

    Symptoms of radiation burn (aka dermatitis) can include hair loss, skin peeling, decreased sweating, edema, skin ulcerations, and bleeding. The extent of any of these symptoms depends on the total radiation dose, the size of the area treated, cellular fractionation, and the type of radiation used by the radiologist. When the radiation burn is severe the radiation treatment shouldbe discontinued until the skin heals.

    There are Different Ways to Treat Radiation Burn

    • Keep tyour skin moisturized and lubricated to prevent itching and cracking.

    • Be sure to use fragrance-free products.

    • Do not wash with hot water, use only luke warm water.

    • Avoid hot baths as this will dry your skin, instead take a quick luke warm shower.

    • Pat yourself dry with a towel instead of rubbing your skin.

    • Do not rub off the markings your radiation therapist made on your skin.

    • Do not use heating pads, ice packs or bandages on the area receiving the radiation.

    • Do not use any oils because they might reduce the efficacy of the radiation treatment.

    • Use non-adhesive dressings, because adhesive bandage removal could cause further damage to your skin.

    • Do not wear tight clothing around the treated area.

    • Don’t use skin care product before radiation therapy. This could interfere with treatment.

    • Clothes and bed sheets should be made of soft cotton, no synthetic materials.

    • Use an electric razor if your doctor or nurse says you can shave.

    • Avoid exposing the treated area to the sun while you are being treated.

    • Wear sun-protective clothing, especially over the treated area.

    • Check with your doctor to see how long you should continue to take sun precautions.

  • My husband, Harley, just finished two weeks of radiation to the cervical vertebrae from the front of his neck as well as the sides. On the last day, Friday, the problems started. He has such a bad sore throat that he can't swallow much of anything including water. Doesn't want to even suck on ice, being stubborn about it, but says he just can't swallow or it makes the coughing worse. He is very dehydrated and we are going in to the Dr in the morning to see about getting IV fluids. Of course he isn't there on Wed!. In addition, he has a terrible cough and it has affected his saliva glands. Dry mouth, phlegm and rattling in his chest... but since he is paralyzed, he can't really cough it up. I am wondering if this cough is related to the radiation. Has anyone had this problem? I am pretty sure he isn't sick. It seems tied to this problem.


  • Hi Charlean, it's Neal. (For everyone else, I was a lurker on the old site but communicated directly with Charlean & with Chuck Maack.) After my spinal cord compression at neurological T10 & my emergency surgery, I had 10 radiation treatments in late 2011. This left me with a burn known as radiation-induced esophagitis. It was extremely unpleasant. It was painful even to sip water, so it sounds like what Harley has. I was prescribed a thick liquid; I'll see if it's still in my Kaiser Rx list & email you the name. I was in better shape than Harley, so I not only drank water & the medication despite the pain, I ate despite the pain. It took a while (a couple of weeks?) to feel better, & to me it was more unpleasant than surgery! I can't remember if I was coughing, but I didn't let myself get dehydrated. I wish you & Harley good luck!

    I'll write another time to introduce myself to the group generally. I did create a profile.


  • Update. Ointment prescribed by radiation oncologist was Silvadene cream 1% for the most badly burned area, about a 3" X 4" area on the front, which blistered and peeled; and Aquaphor for the area about 6 inches around it which just got red and itched and a similar area that developed on my left buttock. The Silvadene relieved the burning pain on the 3 X 4 area almost immediately. The Aquaphor relieved the itching. I now have a nice dark tan area on the front and on my buttock. While, it would be nice to have a whole body tan like that, I think I am going to pass.

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