Chemotherapy not only creates havoc internally but is really punishing to your skin. Being the largest organ of your body, it stands to reason that it too would suffer. The problems include dehydration, discolouration, sensitivity to sunlight, infections, difficulty healing and rashes to name a few.
Some people suffer from chronic skin conditions which chemotherapy often exacerbates. Sadly and painfully, due to adverse reactions and complications, these patients are usually denied any skin condition meds while undergoing chemo.
There now exist spas which have specially trained clinicians to treat cancer patients. This is truly remarkable however, there is a lot a patient can do at home to create their own spa experience and improve their overall skin condition.
A spa considers most of the senses starting with pristinely clean linens, scent and soft music. In choosing the scent - or aromatherapy - try sweet orange or grapefruit - they are known to reduce nausea. Put one drop of either essential oil in enough warm water to soak ten facecloths.
Cleansing is the first step to babying your skin. Set up a comfy chair in your bathroom and begin placing the warm scented cloths on your face, neck and chest, changing them as they cool. Use half of them for this stage.
Step two usually involves exfoliation. Depending on how tender or damaged your skin is, you should exercise extreme care. One of nature's greatest, most natural exfoliants is raw honey. It is not only a topical antiseptic, it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities. It's packed full of antioxidants and has been shown to reduce inflammation. A perfect food.
Gently massage the honey all over your face, neck and chest area - if you have a port, take care not to come near it with products.
Remove the honey with the remaining set of impeccably clean, warm facecloths.
This leads to an interesting step - pat the entire area with warm, diluted green tea - use a ratio of about 10:1. Yes tea. It's a powerful antioxidant and the skin is extremely porous and absorbent.
As a final step, moisturise with a Vitamin C serum.
But you're not finished...
Put yourself to bed for a half hour - but prepare it first. Use lots of pillows to raise your legs above your heart level, dot the pillows with a scent which will soothe and restore. The smell receptors in your nose are said to trigger chemical messages along nerve pathways to the brain's limbic system which affects your moods and emotions. Tried and true essential oils include: chamomile, geranium, lavender, tea tree, bergamot and cedarwood. Turn on some relaxing music. You may also want to place a warm, tea-soaked cloth over your eyes.
A word to women experiencing menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, substitute "cool" for "warm" throughout the treatment.