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Fall 1999 Volume 3, Issue 6:
Protecting Your Skin After Radiotherapy
Any area of skin treated with radiotherapy becomes extremely sensitive and should not be exposed to the sun or cold winds. For at least the first year after radiotherapy, treated areas should be covered when going out in strong sunshine.

Even after this period of time the skin will be more delicate, so extra care is needed.

What can you do to look after your skin?

  • Use a high-factor sunscreen (SPF number of 15 or more);
  • Wear a hat and long-sleeved shirt to avoid any future damage to your skin;
  • If you are having radiotherapy to the head or neck, wear a silk or cotton scarf when going outside;
  • Try not to fall asleep in the sun, as you will lose track of how long your skin has been exposed;
  • Some very gauzy fabric lets a lot of sunlight through, so you may be getting more sunlight than you thought;
  • Swimming is allowed as soon as any skin reaction to radiotherapy has settled down, usually within a month of finishing the treatment;
  • Always remember to protect your skin with a waterproof sunscreen when swimming in the sea or in an outdoor pool;

A combination of wind and sun can be particularly hard on the skin. The sun is strongest during the midday hours, between 11am and 3pm, so take extra care during these times. Be extra careful covering your skin when walking, sailing, or taking part in other outdoor sports.

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