Cancer treatment is notorious for causing difficult side effects. While many people are familiar with side effects like nausea, vomiting, and hair loss, there are lesser-known symptoms that can also occur. One of them is changes to skin and nails. Knowing how cancer treatment may affect your older family member’s skin and nails and what to do about it can help you to be better prepared to deal with it if it happens.
How Cancer Treatment Affects Skin and Nails
The kinds of changes that may occur, depends on the type of treatment your older family member is having. Skin changes that may happen with specific types of treatment are:
-Radiation Therapy: Skin at the location where radiation is being delivered might appear sunburned. It can also get swollen, dry, and itchy. The skin may peel. Sometimes moist sores develop.
-Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy can also cause dry, red, itchy skin. In addition, the skin may look darker than it used to.
-Stem Cell Transplants: Graft versus host disease caused by stem cell transplants can make skin get thicker or cause rashes and blistering.
Some changes that can affect the nails are:
- Nails that look darker or bruised.
- Indentations or lines in the nails.
- Thin, brittle nails.
- Nails separating from nail beds.
- Dry nail beds and torn cuticles.
- Ingrown nails.
Tips for Dealing with the Changes
Older adults should report any skin or nail changes to their health care team, especially if they are uncomfortable or concerning. Some ways to treat or prevent skin changes are:
-Ask for Product Recommendations: Seniors should use only those skin care products recommended by their health care team. This is especially true for people receiving radiation therapy as certain skincare products should be avoided. Products used should be gentle on the skin.
-Keep Affected Areas Clean: Talk to the nurse about how to keep parts of the skin affected by treatment clean to prevent infection.
-Use Moisturizer: Use the moisturizer recommended by the health care team to prevent skin from becoming too dry and itchy.
To manage nail changes, try these tips:
- Trim Nails: Nails should be kept trimmed short and clean to prevent infections.
- Use Gloves: Seniors should wear gloves when they work in the garden or clean the house, which will prevent germs from infecting the nails.
- Avoid Nail Biting: Biting nails or tearing at dry cuticles can lead to infections.
- Use Cuticle Cream: Gently rub cuticle cream into nails and cuticles to keep them moisturized.
- Don’t Use Artificial Nails: It may be tempting to cover blemished nails with artificial ones, but that could cause bigger problems by trapping bacteria and causing infections.
Elder care can assist seniors in going through cancer treatment to care for their skin and nails. An elder care provider can apply moisturizers to affected areas of the skin. Elder care providers can also assist with keeping the skin clean to avoid infections. And, an elder care provider can give your aging relative an in-home manicure to keep nails clean and trimmed, also applying cuticle creams and hand moisturizers to keep nails and hands soft and smooth.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Home Care Services in Bellmore, NY, please call the caring staff at Companion Home Care of Long Island. Senior Home Care serving Suffolk, Nassau and Queens Counties. Turn your questions into answers. Call Today (631) 884-0005
Dorothy’s core expertise includes an extensive background of more than 38 years, focusing on Home Care, Senior Care and operating a successful in-home care agency.
In her spare time she enjoys her 5 grandchildren, gardening, skiing and competition 8-Ball.
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