Radiotherapy burns: My neck and armpit... - Breast Cancer Haven

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Radiotherapy burns


My neck and armpit are burning. I have creams. Any ideas about how to keep the area cool. I can’t walk around with my arm in the air all the time. Also can I ask how long before people had a bath? I’ve had 20 sessions and just finished 2 days ago.

30 Replies

You should not have skin burns. You should have had a full interview explaining everything before you started the therapy. Ring your breast cancer nurse straight away for advice

Corfu7 in reply to Happyrosie

I had full review on last day of radiotherapy. Staff aware of radiation burn under my arm pit area and front of neck. Advised to apply the creams they gave me and how to bathe. Skin under my arm has got small blisters and is turning very dark. I will phone my breast nurses tomorrow.

Thank you for your reply

Cavatina23 in reply to Corfu7

Hi Corfu7

I’m feeling for you as the discomfort from my radiation therapy peeked just after the last of my sessions too. I wasn’t able to sleep at night unless I smeared on a layer of the heavy duty QV cream which seals off the skin from air contact and placed a wet face washer over the affected area every couple of hours. I did the same during the day but without the face washer. Apparently they give you a little bit of extra radiation at the end of your treatment which accounts for the intense burning even though the zapping has stopped. Hope this helps. Best wishes Cavatina.

sandylo in reply to Happyrosie

My underarm was black but it went back to normal eventually

I had terrible burns after radiotherapy. I was prescribed dressings which were cooling. I am not sure what they were called but your nurses would know. They helped a lot. I bathed the whole way through, have you been told different?

Corfu7 in reply to Rayswife

Thanks for the reply. I was advised to have cool showers for about 2 weeks until area is more settled. I have 3 diff creams to use and I got a few pink spongy dressings to use. But area under my arm pit is going black and blistered. So I cant put dressing on as they stick at the mo. Neck/chest area is already black very hot and sore so I putting on my creams frequently. Trying to leave neck area open as anything near it irritates.


I had terrible burns under my armpit from radiotherapy the skin was black ! My breast is still like orange peel i had my operation in 2010 x

Corfu7 in reply to sandylo

Thank you for your reply. I’m at the stage of neck area going black and under armpit very dark with blippy little blisters. I’m glad there is an end to it eventually


Hi, I had 29 sessions of radiotherapy. I had two burn areas: under the breast at the bra line and where my chest and neck meet. The under breast burn healed fairly quickly. The other one was pretty terrible. It was painful, then it began to peal and then it itched like crazy. My doctor prescribed 3 different creams: Aquafor Ointment, Calendula Cream, and Ssd 1% Cream. I was not fond of the Aquafor. It's like petroleum jelly, but it does provide good cover protection for the wound. I only used it for the first two weeks. After that, I used the other two twice (or more) daily. One was a big help with the itching, the other was a big help with the pain and tenderness. So both in their own ways were very soothing. Be diligent and consistent with the use and DON'T use it sparingly! Just when you think it's not going to get better, it'll flip and start to heal at a good pace. All the best, Arlene

Corfu7 in reply to lucydina42

Thanks for the reply. My neck area the same as you is driving me mad more than underneath my arm pit. Neck area has is in the process of turning black hot and sore. Slathering on the creams. Underneath my arm pit is very sore with bubbly little blisters which are at various stages of bursting. Skin in the area is very dark. Will persevere x

Many thanks xx

lucydina42 in reply to Corfu7

I should say my radiotherapy began at the end of January this year and ended April 1. By end of April all was healed (although I still have some discoloration at the neck which should fade in time. So, pretty quick healing I think. And now I'm hardly wearing a bra anymore and LOVING it! Take good care.


Corfu7 in reply to lucydina42

Thank you x

sandylo in reply to Corfu7

The hospital gave me e45 cream which helped a lot

Corfu7 in reply to sandylo

I’ve got that too. So will use when it’s calmed down a bit x

I had bad burns too. I was told it depends on your skin. Only use creams that they tell you to use. Some make the burns worse. Keep the area as cool as you can but no ice cold cloths or ice packs that’s makes it much worse. . use only 100 percent cotton next to your skin. Try and go topless indoors if you can. I found the burns got a bit worse before they started to get better after treatment stopped. I believe I was told to avoid baths till skin healed. But it was nearly four years ago now. It will get better! take care of yourself.

Corfu7 in reply to Aussielouise

Thank you for your reply. I’m trying to let the air flow as much as possible. I’m only using my prescribed creams too. Advised to have cool showers.

Thanks xx

Aussielouise in reply to Corfu7

I found the moo goo creams the nicest to use. Hope you’re feeling a bit better by now.

I got burns on my boob after 2 days apparently I wasnt supposed to that soon after starting RT had flaming row saw consultant who said it is rare but does happen did I go for the idiot who tried to tell me it was an infection..... 3 years later I still have RT skin burn/discoloration looks like my nipple is larger my skin peeled and split and I had some wonderful dressings to use they are what I would describe as "hospital pink " colour they were not sticky just the weight of boob kept it in place they were very soothing

I showered and used a dermatological lotion that can be used as emolient the one I use is DERMOL 500 LOTION I am prescribed it for something else nurses said it was perfect to use Oh yes my nipple still likes to shed skin periodically..... such is life

I do wish they would say this or that may happen if it does seek help rather than nothing be said and it makes you feel like something is really wrong when something you were not aware may happen but you didn't know. The medical field has a lot to learn about treating patients I feel.

Stay strong you will come out the other side of this and eventually the memory of the nasty bits of this journey will fade.


I had a few of the pink dressings but at the moment they are sticking to the broken skin so I’m just trying to use them at night time.

Thanks x

I did the saline soak every day, it really took the heat out of my skin. I never had a blister and got through it. Google saline soak for radiation. BC Cancer agents told me about it. Good luck getting through your journey. cheers

Thank you I will google it x

Hi it’s awful afterwards with burning but I was given cooling pads and gel off oncologist keep them in the fridge and found they helped and have loose cotton clothing on during the day I would also recommend a cool shower if possible. Hope this is useful and hope you get well soon my diagnosis was over four years ago and have aches and pains but I survived and doing okay x

Many thanks for your reply. I’m doing all the above. Today the pain isn’t so bad. I’m hoping the creams are starting to do their magic xx

Hi Corfu7. So sorry to hear you are suffering. I too had burns and blisters after my radio which ended at the end of feb. Under my armpit and under my boob. I took cool showers and used simple shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Not rubbing the affected area. No deodorant obviously. I was recommended to let the air get to it as much as possible And restrict movement which is tricky I know but also if you can get some real silk, when you do have to have clothes against it really helps. I used creams repeatedly and the pink poly mem dressings which are supposed to go against broken, sticky skin so I would recommend you get more of these so you can use freely. I wouldn’t recommend necessarily, As it might not work for you but good old sudocrem really helped with the itching and the weeping blisters for me. I think you should ask to speak to the radio team and get loaded up with everything they can give you. Dressings, creams and if needed antibiotics. I know I felt really low at this point.

My skin is now healed but still delicate so I still have to take care and not wear my bra for too long. Thank goodness I’m Working from home 🤪 I still use a dressing between my skin and bra band If I am walking or exercising to prevent chaffing.

Hope you get some relief soon

Hi Sorry you are suffering with bad burns, I only had it bad under my boob it went very black but healed quickly. Can’t offer much advice but wondered if putting a gentle fan on near you when you are sat down Might be soothing. What I really wanted to ask was why Corfu7? We absolutely love Corfu and have been going for 35 years, we should be there now actually. It was all that kept me going through my treatment, I finished my radiotherapy in April last year and we went to Corfu in June and as soon as I saw the island from the plane I had tears rolling down my face, couldn’t stop them, I think the gentleman next to me thought I was frightened of the landing! Anyway hope you soon all healed up, Take care.

The fan idea is a good one. Especially if like me you have to have hormone therapy. I’ve invested in an expensive dyson one that you can program from your phone. It’s my best friend. Often lie in bed with it blowing my niggly skin

Hi hope it's gets better soon .since I had radiotherapy I've used a brand call sun central. The after sun is great for any burning and on holiday I use their sun creams. It's expensive but ,I would still burn using factor 50 children's block. . Take care . Ps. It's on line and organic x

I was so sore after my radiotherapy used plenty of aqua max no bra and sat in the bedroom topless with a fan constantly on me. It does get better

Have you heard of saline soak? Boil water and then add salt and cook. Fresh batch each day and apply compress as needed. This really helped take burning away

Hi. I didn't use the cream. I was only using either olive oil or black seed oil. U can try to use frankincense oil. Also try to boost ur immunity for quick heeling. Xxx

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