Care during chemo, serious burns, peels gone bad, complicated skin conditions
Skin care is an innocuous enough pursuit of well being. In some cases, skin care has the potential to be much more, such as when caring for cancer or burn patients, when recovering from a clinical procedure, or when living with a serious skin condition. With Dr. Verallo-Rowell, a renowned dermatologist and dermatopathologist (a specialist in skin diseases) as an expert resource, we explore how certain products can provide more profound care for skin in crisis.
Caring for Skin When Undergoing Cancer Therapy
- Cancer therapy can be as taxing as the disease. Cancer patients are often immunocompromised and readily infected. Chemotherapy, certain drugs, inactivity, and lots of time indoors with air-conditioning can break down the skin’s barrier layer, causing intense dryness, rashes or, if the skin gets so dry that it cracks, infections (microorganisms can enter the fissures).
- Dryness, certain drugs, or heightened reactivity can also result in itching.
- Photosensitivity is a common side effect of some chemotherapy medicines.
- Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentations from any of these skin traumas is a risk.
- Hair can become dry and brittle due to the many nutritional deficiencies that patients develop (from vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, etc.). And new hairs in the re-growth phase are highly sensitive.
- Ulcers or cancer sores are common causes of discomfort and can result in serious complications; they can appear in the mouth due to anemia and lowered immunity (why gum care is important for the immunosuppressed), and on the body due to long-term bed confinement.
The 3 P’s of skin care for cancer patients are Prevention (of additional stress), Pacification (to ease discomfort), and Protection (from sun, light, infection).
Products must be as mild as possible: free of tars, dyes, parabens, formaldehydes, formaldehyde releasers (many preservatives), irritants, and allergens. As nausea is a common side effect, the absence of scent and flavor can help, too.
Articles contributed by doctors do not normally contain product recommendations for ethical reasons, and we at VMV HYPOALLERGENICS® believe in protecting the skintegrity of our resource physicians. Below are some products that we at Skintelligencenter.com feel can be recommended based on the preceding information. They are our “skinformed” selections based on the information given above and not necessarily recommended by the medical author of the article.
- VMV’s ultra-mild Essence Clark Wash or Grandma Minnie’s Coo + Clean Baby Wash is ideal for hair and body washing.
- The Essence Skin-Saving Hair-Body-Bath line has other extra-gentle options in a Conditioner, non-itch Antiperspirant, even a tender Toothpaste with monolaurin (a non-stinging antiseptic to help with ulcers).
- For photosensitivity, try chemical-sunscreen-free Armada Baby 50+ or Post-Procedure Barrier Cream 50+ which doubles as a physical barrier to surrounding contaminants.
- Moisture Rich SuperskinCare (its Creammmy Rich Intensive Moisture Milk is also chemical-sunscreen-free) is a good daily regimen for dry facial skin.
- For the body or very dry skin on the face, Grandma Minnie’s Oil’s Well Nurturing Do-It-Oil (alone or with the Mommycoddling All-Over Lotion) is a wonderful, multi-tasking salve. Its USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil is deeply moisturizing and soothing, and it has natural antibiotic and anti-inflammatory benefits. Both contain monolaurin, a powerful yet safe antiviral, antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-protozoal for protection from or treatment of infections. A nice alternative is our pure USDA-certified organic virgin coconut oil, Know-It-Oil.
- TIP: For bed ulcers, itching, and rashes use the oil and lotion in regular, gentle massages on the patient then apply Grandma Minnie’s The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm directly on lesions.
- Stock up on Grandma Minnie’s Kid Gloves Monolaurin Hand Sanitizer. It’s clinically proven to be as effective as 70% isopropyl alcohol and leading topical treatments at killing microorganisms (even MRSA and influenza A), but is non-drying. Mount it on the door or bed for caretakers and visitors to use before entering the room or administering care.
Healing for second-degree burns takes at least three weeks; for third-degree burns, over a month. Management must be done by a physician. Such burns can result in full thickness skin necrosis, infection, and reconstructive surgery. Scarring is a definite possibility if the burned skin is not cared for well.
The acute burn phase requires frequent cold compresses, then occlusive pressure dressings to minimize inflammation, swelling, and necrosis, and to possibly prevent or lessen future scarring (occlusion can curb the overproduction of scar tissue). Some doctors use very little ointment preparations, while others use medical salves.
Part of the healing process is a return to normalcy. Here, makeup can be a great ally.
- Experimenting with makeup begins in the healing-scarring phase. Start with a rich moisturizer like Creammmy Rich Intensive Moisture Milk or Know-It-Oil or Mommycoddling Lotion.
- To block out heat, light, and contaminants, follow with a sunscreen- barrier cream like Armada Post-Procedure 50+ (its pale green mineral tint helps counteract redness, too).
- Use only non-irritating makeup to prevent dryness and other complications. Sterility and cleanliness are crucial: use new, hypoallergenic brushes and sponges to avoid secondary infection of vulnerable necrotic or healing tissue. Skintelligent Beauty Powders, Foundations and Bronzing Powder all dye free. There are several dye-free options among Lipsticks and Lip Glosses, Eyeshadows and Blushes , too. All Skintelligent Beauty products are fragrance, phthalate, paraben + preservative-free, and contain monolaurin for extra protection from infections (and most contain virgin coconut oil).
For inflamed or healing skin, think gentle and moisturizing: no fragrances, lanolin, propylene glycol, dyes, preservatives, or stinging antiseptics or antibiotics.
Skin trauma can follow a treatment. All medical procedures carry some risk, even when done by ethical, well-trained experts. Yet a surprising number of procedures are dealt with cavalierly.
Liposuction is surgery. It must be done by a surgical specialist with a proper sup- port team in or near a hospital with trauma facilities in case of serious complications like cardiac arrest.
Botox® is so common that it seems harmless enough. But an inferior imitation drug or even the proper drug at the wrong dosage or improperly injected can cause infections, allergic reactions, and other problems — as a toxin, it should be administered by a properly-boarded and well-trained physician with medication from a reputable source.
Chemical peels use active ingredients at prescription-drug concentrations. They must be performed by a doctor or at the very least a registered nurse or licensed aesthetician at a clinic with a boarded dermatologist on site to determine the correct dosage for each patient (one size does not fit all) and to quickly address problems should they occur. Chemical peels should never be done at home by oneself. Why? Because even when done correctly peels can “go bad”:
“On a Saturday, I had a salicylic acid peel at a spa that went horribly wrong. My face hurt, was bright red, raw and swollen … I had to miss work on Monday (for a new job)! At the suggestion of a dermatologist, I slathered The Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm all over my face and kept it on all night. It worked wonders at healing my skin. The burn gently peeled off over the next few days with no scarring. By the end of Monday, with only Boo-Boo Balm and ice, I was fine and able to get to work on Tuesday, (miraculously) looking normal again.” — Lauren, New York, NY.
What to do in case of a bad reaction from a peel or product? Go on a 7-Day “Skin Fast.”
Stop all products for at least a week. Cleanse with a simple, inert oil sans additives like Know-It-Oil. Use a cool compress on inflamed areas (try a towel dipped in a mixture of cold water and virgin coconut oil, wrapped around ice). Apply a gentle, healing unguent like Grandma Minnie’s Big, Brave Boo-Boo Balm. Get medical help if you don’t see an improvement in twenty-four hours or if the condition worsens.
For a complete, step-by-step guide to the 7-Day “Skin Fast”, click here.
Severe Sun Sensitivity
For some, “skin adversity” is a daily reality.
“Twenty-four years ago, I was diagnosed with chronic discoid and subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (an auto-immune disease). Sun exposure is an absolute contraindication for me because it triggers the disease. After such a long time without sun exposure, my skin was very sensitive. Even my hands got burned through the windshield of my car just from them being on the steering wheel. Sunscreens I tried were disastrous. I had to use gloves all year, even in the hot summer months. I went to a funeral and was very worried because it was under the sun at high noon and I didn’t bring my hat. All I had was Armada Sport 70 which a friend had given me. It was incredible. It is the first cream, in years, that has managed to protect me 100%. My face was totally fine (only parts of my neck where I didn’t put enough were a little burned). Now a regular user, my hands are always perfect and I hardly need gloves! I also wanted to highlight the quality of the cream. I don’t know how to put it, the texture that it leaves on the skin is incredible. I could talk to you for hours about Armada Sport because I’m fascinated. I congratulate and thank you and the doctor behind the formulation because you’ve changed my entire perspective of summer with this sunscreen. You’re going to laugh, but every morning I look at my hands and can’t believe that they don’t have spots from the sun! It’s almost like the more I look at them the more I admire them and all, obviously, thanks to Armada Sport 70.” — Adela, Buenos Aires, Argentina
When managing a skin or medical condition, use the same diligence to choose your skin care that you would to select your doctor and therapy.
A moisturizer could protect you from infection. A toothpaste could prevent ulcers. A sunscreen could double as a barrier against environmental irritants and microorganisms.
Chosen well, your skin care products could become more than simple tools of hygiene. They could become powerful allies in the overall management of your condition.