In the treatment of malignant tumors, in addition to surgery and chemotherapy, radiotherapy is used. Thanks to modern devices and techniques of irradiation, the number and degree of side effects of this therapy has significantly decreased. However, despite the enormous progress in this field, radiation dermatitis, which is the result of ionizing radiation on the skin, is still a significant problem for patients and physicians.
What are the effects of radiation dermatitis?
The first symptoms of radiation syndrome, such as reddening of the skin and mucous membranes, may appear after a few days of irradiation. Pain, burning and aching sensation may occur during further treatment. From the 2-3rd week of radiotherapy, erythema and dry and then wet peeling of the epidermis appear (liquid-filled blisters), sometimes also exudate. The highest levels of reaction may additionally cause bleeding, skin necrosis or ulceration. They can cause temporary delay in treatment and even death.
The intensification of the radiation reaction is the result of mechanical friction of the surfaces against each other and excessive sweating. Therefore, it occurs most often in places where:
– two skin surfaces are in contact (crotch, armpits and breast)
– the epidermis is thin (crotch, face, armpits).
Toxic skin damage depends on the characteristics of the Patient, e.g. age, skin type, chronic diseases (diabetes, kidney failure), malnutrition, alcohol consumption and smoking, as well as genetic predispositions.
How to reduce skin irritation?
Clothing should be loose and airy, preferably made of natural fibers (linen, 100% cotton). Do not stick dressings or medical plasters, the skin at the irradiation site must have constant access to fresh air. Hot baths and sunbathing are contraindicated.
Use as little cosmetics as possible on the irradiated area. Let's give up scented soaps, creams or deodorants that can increase the reaction. It is best to wash the skin with lukewarm water and a mild, unperfumed soap that has a neutral pH. For shaving, an electric razor is recommended as it requires no foam and causes less irritation.
Milk thistle (silybin).
By inhibiting the activity of hyaluronidase, they seal and strengthen the walls of blood vessels. Therefore, they prevent bleeding or petechiae. Silybin protects the skin against cancer because it prevents DNA damage and destroys already damaged cells. In addition, it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
Japanese knotweed (resveratrol).
The cream also contains Japanese knotweed extract, which contains resveratrol. Like silybin, it is an antioxidant that prevents the formation of free radicals and peroxides. It has anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antiviral properties. Prevents degenerative changes in the tissue (epithelial and connective) of blood vessels. It inhibits the division of cancer cells and tumor metastasis.
The phytoncides contained in this plant have a greater antibacterial and antifungal effect than many synthetic antibiotics. In addition, Japanese knotweed extract accelerates the healing of wounds on mucous membranes and skin, and also prevents swelling and exudation. It has an astringent effect and inhibits the secretion of sebum.