Skin burn from radiotherapy? - Breast Cancer Haven

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Skin burn from radiotherapy?


Hi ladies

the first week of radiotherapy I didn't have too much trouble, a slight pinkness of the area that was treated, but otherwise OK. However then the pain and itching kicked in - it was like the worst sunburn ever, keeping me awake at nights and just generally unbearable (my oncology nurse called it the 'notorious day 10 effect')

At the height of the discomfort my oncologist gave me a prescription for Hydrocortison cream 10mg/g - which really helped against the itching and the heat

One of the oncology nurses recommended Cetomacrogol as a cream to rub into the area and at the end of my treatment the area was very red and felt like 'snakeskin' - very dry and unpleasant to the touch.

You can buy this cream over the counter at the chemist without prescription.

2 months after the end of my radiotherapy I still use the Cetomacrogol daily after my shower

My skin is complete healed and feels/looks like normal

I just wanted to give you this information as sometimes it is not offered. Please do not suffer, ask for some cream :-)

have a lovely day


23 Replies

Hi there lizzyHZ after radio lash on E45 unperfumed (red lid) keep applying it then mornimg before radio wash it off in the shower. Repeat after each radiotherapy. It will help the sunburn feel. I did burn but it healed quickly and keeps the skin supple after all the treatment. All the best with the rest of your treatment Lizzy. Lainey66 xx

Glad you are back to normal, it is good to share these kind of experiences, especially as people can be prepared, or even op not to have RT as I did, I had full mastectomy instead of lumpectomy so didn't need the RT. Sometimes you have to look at all options and side effects of everything.

cbnh in reply to Debs1962

I'm trying to decide which is the best route to take, masrectomy or lumpectomy followed by radiation. I dread the radiation!

Debs1962 in reply to cbnh

I had a choice, for me it was simple, I didn't want to have radiotherapy so had mastectomy with reconstruction with implant at the same time, I had to op at 9am and went home same day 5pm, recovered really quickly and full arm movement in 2 weeks.

With radiotherapy you have side effects on the skin, also a greater risk of lymphodema in the arm, and if you get that you have it for life.

The choice is yours of course, but for me I have no regrets on my choice of treatment.

Good luck x

lizzyHZ in reply to cbnh

I was given the choice too...the surgeon thought the lumpectomy was the best option for me and i am so glad i took it as apart from a small scar which will fade the breast looks as it it did there is no difference between the two you would never have known i have had the surgery

The radiotherapy after driving backwards and forwards to hospital every day became so tiring and the skin burn was as i said uncomfortable but with the creams it recovered quickly and i am so glad i went down this route than go for the more invasive mastectomy

Mine was a deep tissue tumour of 1.3 cm to give you an idea as your situation might be very different

I didnt need chemo

I was operated on at 0830 and left to go home at 15.00

Each situation is unique so you must be well informed but in my personal case lumpectomy and radiotherapy was certainly the best choice

In total i had 16 sessions

Good luck xx

Thank you all. I have radiotherapy to look forward to and am busy making notes of all these creams! Xxx

Liz61 in reply to Debster2016

Hi there, if you would like to go down a more natural route, when I had my radiotherapy, I used a high quality aloe vera gel right from the start and I didn't even go red, let alone be sore or burn. I simply went slightly brown like a tan! I would recommend it, but it must be as pure and high quality as possible. Hope this helps and good luck x

Debster2016 in reply to Liz61

Hi Liz thank you, my personal preference is always for natural products where possible so this is great for me x

Liz61 in reply to Debster2016

I don't mean to look like I'm trying to sell you anything, as that is not my intention, however the product I used comes from a company called Forever Living Products. It so happened that I was recommended a particular product of theirs, by a distributor, as the products aren't in shops, to help with my skin during my radio. I loved it so much that I too now work from home with this company. Please don't feel under any pressure to buy it, it is not what it's about. I am purely another women who has gone through breast cancer, and come across a really good product which I am simply recommending. If you are interested in learning a bit more and having a look at my website, then I am happy to help. As I said, no pressure at all, just letting you know of a very good product for your skin. Thanks for replying, Liz x

Debster2016 in reply to Liz61

That's okay Liz I have heard of forever living products a few years ago from a wife of my husbands cricketing colleague. I will bear it in mind thk u ☺️. D x

Liz61 in reply to Debster2016

Hi again, I suddenly thought that you probably won't know which product from Forever that I'm referring to, if you decide to have a look. The one you should go for is called Aloe Vera Gelly. Good luck for when your radio starsts x

lizzyHZ in reply to Liz61

Thanks for the information in fact i put this information on about cream but i in fact am already fully recovered i just thought i could offer advice to other ladies i will recommend this to any others who may ask..

I'm at day 11 of 20 radiation sessions. The last 4 will be boosts to the area where the cancer had been. I have some skin pinkness. Breast feels heavy and looks a bit swollen. I feel some pulling of the skin around my lumpectomy scar but my skin is soft. I'm using Elocon, a prescription steroid cream at night and after each treatment. After I leave that on for at least 6 hrs I am using Aquaphor which is a petroleum based product. Praying that it doesn't get much worse but I know it may. I was told by the skin care nurse that radiation effects will peak 2 weeks after therapy is completed.

As of now my biggest problem is the radiation fatigue which is far more intense than I imagined.

Looking forward to when this is just an unpleasant memory

Robin in NYC

Debster2016 in reply to haagr

Robin thank you for the cream info and fatigue warning as I hadn't thought about it yet (still focussing on chemo 😊). Best of luck with the rest of your recovery xx

lizzyHZ in reply to haagr

I agree about the tiredness that really surprised me will fade i guarantee it...i am now back working 3 days a week and soon will be back full time i could not have imagined that back in november 16....take care good luck

Liz, the netherlands

I suffered terribly with radiation burns. Finished however last September and use aveeno dry skin relief (blue top) every day, more if I have time. The skin is still discoloured but supple and healthy enough although I have some pulling and tenderness under my arm. Now back at work full time and feeling tired and still emotional odd days. I had wide excision lumpectomy and a second op for axilliary clearance as initially the consultant didn't think the cancer had spread. 3 weeks of radiotherapy, still a little fatigued and frustrated with myself that I don't feel 100%. Lymphoedema clinic tomorrow as I have swelling in my right arm. Thank you ladies for all your info, comments and experiences. I do wonder whether I took the right option but was told mastectomy wasn't necessary, so wasn't given the choice. Good luck to all who are having treatment and thank you everyone for being the most amazing group. Alison xxx

Debster2016 in reply to NickAl

Hi Alison gosh it sounds like you're having a challenging time, so sorry to hear this you poor thing. Well done on keeping the skin supple so thanks for that, and the heads up on the fatigue. I wish you well again soon xx

NickAl in reply to Debster2016

Thank you xx

Thank you, all, for sharing your stories! I appreciate each and every one of you!

Thank you ... I've been concerned with this side of the treatment ... will keep that in my diary for when it's my turn ... hope all goes well


Thanks, glad the Cetomacrogol worked.

Thank you my turn soon nice to know its bad but bearable like bad sunburn and that it mends xxxx

Starting 3 weeks of RT on the 31st. This is good information to have. Thank you!

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