Skin Sins: Illness and Medication

When you are sick, it is hard to think about any of your beauty routines. The effects of an illness on your skin can be detrimental to its appearance and health. Not only this, but prescribed medication or in the case of cancer patients, radiotherapy and chemotherapy can also have negative effects on the skin.

Cancer Patients

Cancer as an illness can already reap havoc with the skin. As your body is busy trying to fight cancer, it can be less helpful trying to repair and protect other aspects of the body, including the skin. The main cause of skin concerns during cancer is due to treatment a patient may be undergoing.


Chemotherapy affects all the fast growing cells in the body. This is extremely beneficial for targeting the fast growing cancer cells in the body however it is also affecting good fast growing cells in the skin, hair, nails and blood. The skin becomes excessively dry, sensitive and rashy. It is prone to pigmentation and hives can occur.

Topical Steroids

Patients and parents of children with atopic dermatitis and eczema are often fearful about using topical corticosteroids because of safety concerns. Barrier impairment, which can occur within just three days of treatment initiation, is probably the most clinically important side effect of topical corticosteroid use. Topical corticosteroid treatment disrupts the skin barrier by causing decreases in the production and release of the natural oils known as lipids and antimicrobial peptides.


Radiation treatments can burn the skin and make it become very hot and sensitive. In some cases it becomes dry and brittle and promotes itching, redness and thinning of the skin. Long-term symptoms of radiation can then become infected and blister due to a lack of immune defence. Many patients get itchy skin and some going through the newer treatments get pustular cysts that look like severe acne. It becomes very sore and sensitive. If people have had chemo as well, then the effects of radiation will be far worse. Radiation therapy can kill skin cells causing them to shed at a faster rate.

Post-treatment cancer drugs 

By this time, the skin is less reactive however the damage dit is essential to care for the sin throughout. Patients often complain that their skin has aged dramatically. I’m sure this is caused by a multitude of things including the stress cancer can cause both physically and mentally on a client. The aim of a product is to provide hydration and boost the suppleness of the skin.


Using non-irritating ingredients are essential as the skin is so sensitive and vulnerable at the moment. The line up must be so simple, protective and gentle. Fragrances should be avoided and some emulsifiers in products  can be hazardous. Active ingredients and essential oils should also be avoided. Often, the use of a barrier cream is used which reduces irritant exposure and lipid removal. This however is like trying to repair a damaged brick wall by covering it with a coat of paint. Although the intervention has an instant effect, it doesn’t address the root cause. Barrier repair creams like Skin Repair, however contain materials that can actually improve underlying damages.