Which treatments are safe and which ones to avoid.

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Undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments can take its toll on the skin. While many may think a facial is just what the doctor ordered for a post-treatment pick-me-up, oncology patients must be extra-careful when heading to the spa or salon. “The skin may be fragile and more prone to tearing and subsequent infection,” says Holly Sherrard, education manager for the International Dermal Institute.  Sherrard provides us with her do’s and don’ts for post-cancer spa dates as a guide to help make your pampering comforting rather than stressful.


•  Hair removal, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, manicures/pedicures and treatments that involve electrical currents (such as high-frequency or ultrasonic therapies) could aggravate the skin or tear it, possibly causing infection.

•  Massages can cause lymphedema—swelling caused by a compromised lymphatic system—after a lumpectomy, which requires medical treatment.

•  Avoid skin-care products with artificial fragrances and exfoliants, as they may cause irritation or skin sensitivity.

•  Aromatherapy oils or the alcohol used to sanitize products and tools at the spa may cause nausea. Detoxifying body treatments can also aggravate your stomach if you’re feeling queasy.


•  Relaxing reflexology or reiki treatments, both natural forms of holistic therapy, can help you relax and heal.

•  LED skin therapies that are generally painless and relaxing if your doctor approves these types of treatments.

•  Always consult your physician before getting any skin or spa treatments to ensure your safety and optimal results.

A certified oncology skin care therapist will customize a treatment with products that gently improve your skin’s integrity. Find out more at oncologyesthetics.com, s4om.org, greettheday.org and oesociety.net.