In a recent article we wrote about skin sensitivity during cancer treatment and how it can be more reactive in the sun due to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, with the best will in the world, skin can still get aggravated or even burned in the heat and sunlight. So, what can you do to soothe your skin after being in the sun, as part of your summer skincare routine?
How to prevent sunburn during cancer treatment
To begin with, as prevention is better than cure, let's start with a brief overview of how to help prevent sunburn during cancer treatment. It's really all about the basics that you probably already know, but being extra vigilant with them.
- Wear sunglasses with a guaranteed ultraviolet (UV) light filter
- Wear long sleeves and trousers in natural fabrics
- Wear a high factor sunscreen of SPF 30+
- Wear a sun hat - preferably with a wide brim
Another helpful tool for trying to prevent sunburn is to look at the Met office’s UV Index to ascertain the risk of sunburn on any given day. Cancer Research UK has also created a corresponding graph to help you understand and correspond with the appropriate level of sun protection too. We created our own version below:
What happens if you get sun burn during cancer treatment?
The big difference to your skin in terms of the sun when you're going through cancer treatment is that it is more sensitive and can therefore burn more easily. Anyone who has ever had sunburn, which is probably most of us, knows that it can be quite painful.
When your skin is sensitive from chemo or radiotherapy, those burns can become more serious more quickly, ranging from redness, swelling, blistering, weeping and peeling. In particular, the immediate challenges to that are that it is very uncomfortable, that skin tends not to heal so easily during active cancer treatment, and there is a risk of infection if you are immunocompromised.
With radiotherapy, the area which has been exposed to radiation (which itself often presents like a burn), often remains at a higher risk of burning and is more susceptible to long-term sun damage including skin cancers.
Many people also find that amongst the sensitivities skin develops from cancer treatment are irritations from substances like chlorine. As a result, a dip in the pool on holiday to cool off in the heat isn't always an option either.
Soothing after sun skin care products
If you do get sun burn however, it's important to look after your skin, both for your comfort and wellbeing. It's incredibly easy to suffer sunburn, even at the best of times. Meanwhile, irritation from the heat is normal for lots of people as well, irrespective of cancer treatment.
If your burn is severe or you're worried about an infection, the first port of call is to speak to your doctor who will either be able to provide recommendations or at least put your mind at rest. Then there are two things that products can help with - soothing the skin and cooling you down.
Soothing summer skincare
Our Defiant Beauty Smooth Skin Balm is something of a multitasking superhero, containing shea and calendula, both known for their soothing properties, it also contains apricot kernel oil, which is highly recommended for sensitive skin. Easily absorbed, it's specially designed for dry, sore skin, helping to reduce scarring and encourage healing.
A cooling summer spritz
Hot flushes are common experiences during chemotherapy at any rate, and skin often feels hot after radiotherapy too. Our Defiant Beauty Cool and Refresh is a cooling mist that works well in hospital, at home and on warm, sunny days. It can be used on the scalp, face and body and is ideal for when you want to cool down in the summer heat or if skin has been aggravated by the warm weather.
Discover more ways to support your skin with our sensitive summer skin prep routine