It’s winter, which often is associated with dry skin that requires constant attention to avoid cracks and chaffing. For those of us who have undergone treatment for breast cancer, surgery and/or radiation, should be even more vigilant about skin care. After surgery or radiation involving lymph nodes or vessels, the lymphatic system may become compromised and not perform as effectively as prior to treatment. The lymphatic system is responsible for managing swelling in the human body and infection control. If the lymphatic system is not working as well after surgery or radiation, then the body is more susceptible to issues with swelling and infection. Dry skin is more likely to crack which opens the protective barrier of our body. Once this protective barrier is open, bacteria is able to enter our body more easily increasing the likelihood of infection. Infection causes the lymphatic system to work harder, and if a breast cancer survivor’s body has an already compromised system, then swelling and infection can become worse.
Here are a few Skin Care tips to minimize chances of infection and/or swelling:
*Apply moisturizer daily to prevent chapping/chaffing of skin
*Pay attention to nail care and do not cut cuticles
*Use care with razors to avoid nicks and skin irritation
*If scratches/cuts to skin occur, wash immediately with soap and water, apply antibiotics and observe for signs of infection
*Use soap that is not too strong or dries out your skin
*If a rash, itching, redness, pain, increased skin temperature, fever or flu-like symptoms occur, then you may have an infection and you NEED to contact your physician immediately.
*Take a filled prescription for an antibiotic with you if you travel outside the United States.