Itchy Skin and Dry Skin from Cancer Treatment – Your Questions Answered

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More About Itchy Skin

The Defiant Beauty Collection was created when some people at my local NHS Cancer Centre asked me to work with them to make specialist skincare for those affected by cancer.

I went onto the chemo ward knowing nothing about why patients needed specialist skincare. The patients, ex-patients, lead chemotherapy and radio nurses were kind and patient and told me of the skin and nail related side-effects caused by chemo and other cancer treatments.

Itchy Skin was top of their list for concerns to be addressed. It was made very clear to me that the itchiness was driving them, and many others mad. The itchiness was almost always accompanied by dryness, sensitivity, soreness and flaking.

I had been given my brief and Defiant Beauty Itchy Skin Oil was the answer. The first feedback I got, from someone who had bought Defiant Beauty Itchy Skin Oil online was

‘I just wanted to let you know that you have changed my life’

This lovely lady had spent the winter following her treatment for breast cancer indoors and bra-less. Her skin was sore from radiotherapy treatment and she had spent a fortune trying to find a bra that she could wear comfortably. She failed to find one and, as a last resort, decided to try to cure her sore skin. The Defiant Beauty Itchy Skin Oil worked, she could wear a bra and felt able to leave the house to play golf, her passion.

Dry Skin is another common side-effect and one which all of our specialist products are formulated to combat.

Why is my skin affected by cancer treatment?

Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy are the main treatments for cancer, along with surgery. These interventions affect the skin in different ways.


Chemo is a collection of systemic drugs that are toxic to cancer cells. In very simple terms, the chemotherapy is put into the body via a line or a tablet and it travels throughout the body attacking cells that have the characteristics of a cancer cell.

Many of the characteristics of cancer cells are linked to fast growth, skin cells also grow (replicate) quickly. The chemotherapy drugs can have an effect on skin cells as well as the cancer cells as they share characteristics.

If affected the skin can become, dry, sore, itchy, flaky, angry and sensitive.


Radio treatments are far more localised than chemotherapy. High dose radiation is used to destroy cancer cells. This can lead to burning in the area of the radiation treatment.

We have more detailed radiation treatment information as well as some information about damage to skin caused by radiation treatments for cancer for those who want to know more.


Surgery is used to remove the cancer from the body. There is damage to surrounding tissue as scars can result.

Why does chemotherapy cause sensitive skin?

Chemotherapy drugs target fast replicating cells and can affect skin cells as they behave in this way.

Why does chemotherapy cause dry skin?

The skin is often affected by chemotherapy as it is sensitive to the actions of chemotherapy drugs.

Why does chemotherapy cause sore skin?

The skin can be adversely affected by chemo regimes as the cells share some characteristics with cancer cells and, so, are affected by the chemotherapy drugs.

Why does chemotherapy cause reactive skin?

The skin sometimes reacts to products during cancer treatment – the drugs can affect the skin in this way as they are affected by the drugs used in chemotherapy.

What can I do to help my very dry skin?

The Defiant Beauty Collections were formulated for dry skin caused as a result of treatment for cancer.

I have dry skin on my face, what can I do?

The Defiant Beauty Face Collection contains everything needed for a full facial treatment (these products are used in our spa therapies). All of the Defiant Beauty products are formulated for very dry skin, which can also be sensitive and sore.

I suggest a twice daily facial routine  (do this in the morning when you wake and just before going to bed)

My skin is flaking – help

Most facial routines include an exfoliation.  It has been a challenge for me to find an exfoliator that I was happy with. Those affected by cancer can have very sensitive skin and exfoliators are, by nature, aggressive and abrasive – not properties that we want to inflict upon our often vulnerable clients. In addition, exfoliators give ‘bugs’ many a place to hide and require higher levels of preservatives than most other types of skincare product. Preservatives are something that our clients have asked us to avoid.

Flaking skin will benefit from exfoliation, in fact, it is just what it needs. The Defiant Beauty Exfoliating Sponge is perfect. It gently exfoliates when it is used to remove Defiant Beauty Cleanse & Moisturise

My entire body is sore and dry – there must be something I can do?

The advice I give depends upon severity. I have some clients for whom Defiant Beauty Itchy Skin Oil used as a body oil will solve the problem. Others need more intensive treatments in a localised area – elbows, knees, skins – the area varies but the advice is the same – give your body a facial.

I have a client with very sore, sensitive skin on his shins, the skin is flaking away and itching. I suggested the following (and the problem is no more).