Breast Cancer Awarness: Beauty Beyond Chemotherapy

Breast cancer has become a big scare but this doesn’t mean you have to be down and burdened with the fears or feel like you are in this for the long hall.  Which makes me concerned about an issue that I know many cancer patients share with most every women, and that is Skin Care during Treatment, and which products are going to feed my cancer, and which products are safe for me to use. Here are some of my own thoughts along with supporting contributors that feel beauty doesn’t have to end with cancer.

During this time of change, you need to take special care of your skin. First – ask your doctor regarding the products, lotions, soaps, deodorants, sunscreen, cream, or perfume around the treatment area you can use. If the areas are itchy or irritated, a light sprinkling of cornstarch help, but filmy skin products may hamper your treatment.

To wash your face or treatment area, a mild soap like Dove may be used. Wash using only warm water and use your hands, this is gentler. Gently pat dry with a soft cotton towel. You should not scrub, scratch or shave treated skin. Soak a soft, fluffy cotton ball with non-alcohol toner and gently go over your face. Are you noticing a trend? Everything is done gently to cause little irritation.

Ask your doctor what UVA/UVB sunscreen to buy. Sunscreen with an SPF 15 is a good general number. After applying, wait a few minutes until the sunscreen is totally absorbed (which many of us do not do, including me!) before applying any moisturizer. Use very small amounts of moisturizer dot on face and gently pat.

Oily skin may become dry or flaky during your chemotherapy, consider using moisturizer several times daily to lessen the impact, please check with your doctor first.

This is important; wash your hands before applying anything to the treatment area. We all know nasty bacteria are on our hands and you do not want to transfer that to your skin. It may cause an infection. Tightly close the tops of your jars so airborne bacteria and germs remain out of your skin care.

Most of products used of cancer patients should be completely free of   chemicals, synthetic preservatives, xenoestrogens, parabens, and artificial fragrances. Patients also avoid most essential oils, because of the estrogenic effects many oils have on the body. Oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree, Rose, and Rosemary are known phytoestrogens. These oils can be harmful in dealing with many hormonally related diseases and skin disorders, as well as causing internal issues that actually result in more skin problems.

Estrogen free products is the main focus when choosing a skin regimen during and even after cancer treatments.   Xenoestrogens are chemical substances that mimic estrogen in the human body. These Xenoestrogens appear in most skin care products, even those that label themselves as natural. Paraben is one of the most common xenoestrogens and appears in most skin care products. It is used as a preservative and appears on product labels under many different names. Phytoestrogens are plant-based substances that mimic estrogens in the body. While Phytoestrogens are not as harmful and do not have the same long term effect on the body that Xenoestrogens do, they also play a major role in hormonal imbalances. Both Xenoestrogens and Phytoestrogens disturb the body’s hormonal systems, and may cause or exaggerate ailments such as breast cancer, fibroids, endometriosis, PMS, acne, ovarian cancer, and hot flashes.

Some Natural Ingredients to look for in a product are listed below.

Aloe Vera – Both the juice and the gel of this plant are excellent for all skin types. It helps prevent and heal acne, burns and skin abrasions, it aids the absorption other nutrients as well as promoting younger looking skin.

Aloe Butter – Contains aloe extract and coconut oil combine to produce a soft butter that melts on contact with skin. Excellent moisturizing properties.

Avocado Oil – Is a thick, rich oil that is very soothing to irritated skin. It is a deep moisturizer, and helps repair damaged hair when used in shampoos and conditioners.

Bees Wax – Is a natural wax used in lip balms and creams for its thickening ability as well as emulsifier and emollient qualities.

Coconut Oil – Is a white oil derived from the meat of the coconut. It is used widely in commercially produced soaps as well as candles. Coconut oil is added to our soaps to increase the soaps ability to lather without the chemical additives most soaps contain. It is very light when applied to the skin, and is readily absorbed. Some people are sensitive to coconut oil, but most tolerate it in soaps and shampoos because the soaponification process alters the structure of the oil, causing fewer reactions.

Emulsifying Wax – Is a mixture of non-paraben waxes used to blend oils and water together to form creams. It is very gentle to the skin.

Epsom Salts – Is absorbed through the skin, when dissolved in bath water and helps replenish the body’s levels of magnesium, thus rejuvenating the body and easing muscle cramps.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Is excellent for nearly every skin type. It soothes, heals, and moisturizes. It makes rich hard bars of soap, and adds moisture to shampoo and liquid soaps. It is excellent in creams, and leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Glycerin – Is a sweet syrupy, colorless bi-product of soap making, and is excellent for soothing and smoothing the skin.

Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) – Is extracted from the seeds of grapefruit. It is used for its preserving qualities, and prevents the growth of yeasts, molds, and bacteria. Also excellent for skin conditions such as acne because of it’s antibacterial qualities.

Honey – Has been used as an emollient for centuries and makes an excellent addition to skin care products. It heals, soothes, and nourishes tired and irritated skin.

Jojoba Oil – Is nature’s closest match to the oil our skin produces. Because of this, it is extremely gentle and quickly absorbed into the skin. It does not clog pores and is excellent for acne and other skin issues.

Kaolin Clay – Great covering ability, able to absorb fats from the skin, refines pores and helps clear breakouts, also has soothing properties (ideal for sensitive skin).

Lime Oil – Is uplifting, anti-bacterial, and energizing.

Macadamia Nut Oil – Tones aged or dry skin, softens the skin, helps heal wounds and sunburns, and penetrates the skin very quickly.

Peppermint Oil – Is invigorating, helps clear troubled skin, and stimulate the scalp.

Silk Amino Acids (Liquid Silk) – Is a non-animal protein source, which provides a protective barrier and silky feel to skin and hair care products.

Sweet Almond Oil – Is a moderate to light oil that is very gentle, excellent for babies, and contains protein as well as several vitamins. It is well known for its ability to soften the skin, and is used in many cosmetics, soaps and creams.

Titanium Dioxide – Excellent absorber of sun rays, provides long-term UV-protection, water resistant.

Vitamin A – Has excellent skin regenerating properties, helps heal sunburns, prevent aging and wrinkles, and prevent and heal acne.

Vitamin B5 – Penetrates readily skin and hair, excellent moisturizer and softener of the skin, makes skin more elastic, soothes irritated and inflamed skin, promotes skin cell renewal, gives the hair moisture and shine, reduces split ends.

Vitamin C

Is a powerful anti-oxidant, (protects skin from oxidative damages e.g. by sun rays) anti-aging effects, helps age spots, is anti-inflammatory and soothing effects.

Vitamin E Oil – Has been used for many years to soothe the skin and prevent wrinkles. Also used as a natural preservative.

Zinc Oxide – Absorber of the full UV spectrum of sun rays, soothes skin irritations, anti-fungal properties.

Chemotherapy can also cause hair loss as well affect hair regrowth. Towards the end of treatment, or soon after, your hair will start to come back. When your hair does return, the texture and color may be different than your original hair – and when your post-chemo hair is very curly, it’s called chemo curls. You may be tired of wearing your wig and eager to show off your new hair, so learn how to take good care of your chemo curls.

You’ve Got Chemo Curls

Chemotherapy drugs affect the roots of your hair, and will continue to affect hair shaft formation because the drugs will still be in your system for some time after treatment. Your hair, skin, and fingernals will take some time to recover as the toxins leave your body. When your new hair comes in, it may be different from your natural hair at first. This is due to the loss or change of pigment and may result in white, gray, or some color different than your natural hair color. As your body recovers and hair pigment rebounds, your hair may return to its original color, or a color close to your pre-chemo hair. Expect a change in hair texture as well – it may initially be kinky, curly, coarse, or even fine as baby hair. This initial chemo hair may be trimmed away as it grows out over the next six to twelve months after treatment. Give yourself time to recover – meanwhile, treat your new hair gently.

Caring For Chemo Curls

Your new hair may feel as if it had a really bad permanent wavetreatment, and it makes sense to treat it that way. Use a very mild shampoo – try baby shampoo or products for dry or damaged hair. While shampooing your chemo curls, massage your scalp to increase circulation to your roots and remove any dry, flaky skin. Avoid using very hot water because your scalp may be tender. After your shampoo, put on a leave-in conditioner for fine or limp hair. Dry your hair gently by blotting with a thick towel, or use a low heat setting on your hair dryer. Style your new hair gently – vigorous brushing, combing and pinning can break brittle chemo curls. Put away your curling and straightening irons for now – the heat can burn your tender scalp. Use styling products that offer a light hold, as these are easy to wash out and won’t make your hair look like plastic. Go for water-based products whenever you can find them – those are healthy for your hair and the environment. To avoid any reactions from chemicals used in hair Coloring and permanent Waves treatments do not try this at all until agreed by your doctor.

OhMyGosh wants you to always be happy no matter what obstacles come in your life.  And remember safe, healthy and effective skin care can be challenging with individuals experiencing the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation and other forms of treatment for cancer. The skin, being the largest organ of the body is a reflection of what is going on both internally and externally. For those on cancer treatment, management of skin reactions and side effects is an important component to getting through the treatment process as comfortably as possible. Skin can become sensitive or reactive to everyday skin care products, specific ingredients contained in skin or hair products, medicines, weather conditions, cosmetics as well as many other elements.

By Candice Frederick


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