Breast Cancer Self-Care Series – Part 2

Skin care

After breast cancer treatment (especially surgery and radiotherapy) it is really important to look after your skin around the area of treatment but also your whole arm on that side.

Why is skin care important?

  1. Radiotherapy leaves the treated area more prone to inflammation and we don’t really know how long this will last. 
  2. Chemotherapy may cause localised neuropathy especially in the extremities. 
  3. Removal of lymph nodes means there is a reduced capacity for the immune system to respond to infection in this arm.
  4. Removal of lymph nodes also increases the possibility of lymphoedema developing.

Moisturising the skin on a daily basis will keep the skin pliable and in good condition.  This makes it less vulnerable to damage. In the event of any skin damage on the arm or around the breast area, keep the area very clean and dressed, and monitor for any signs of infection until fully healed. 

Gentle skin brushing can also be helpful to maintain blood and lymphatic flow in the arm and breast area. ‘Gentle’ is the word, a soft brush and stroking movements towards the neck or heart. Nothing vigorous or too firm.

No shaving or epilation.  This causes small wounds where the hair is removed and brings a high risk of infection.

Vitamin D is great so get outside and expose yourself to sunlight but prevent burning and insect bites, so be sensible when abroad especially if the sun is strong.  Sun is great, sunburn is bad!

Any sign of infection or swelling in your arm or breast area, get yourself checked out.  These parts of your body need a bit more attention and care now.

So if you are not sure, please ask!  Get in touch with your breast care nurse, your GP or your local MLD therapist (look on the national practitioner register on the MLDuk website for a properly qualified therapist) and they should be able to help you with this and many other questions around your self-care.

Contact Dr Alison Merrick on 07805 644125, alison@dralisonmerrick.co.uk, www.dralisonmerrick.co.uk, www.saltairetherapy.co.uk

Saltaire Therapy, your local Complementary Health Clinic for all the family, serving Bradford, Leeds, Bingley, Baildon, Keighley, Shipley, Saltaire, Skipton, Ilkley, Halifax

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