Living with cancer blog

Skin, hair care concern cancer survivors

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. March 10, 2012

Cancer treatments can have short-term and long-term effects on your hair and skin. If you've been through chemotherapy, you may have lost your hair (even your eyebrows).

Radiation treatments can cause skin changes such as dryness, redness, irritation and even a sunburn effect. Cancer survivors have identified that skin and hair changes are a primary concern during and after treatment.

Hair loss and skin changes are physical reminders of your cancer diagnosis and treatment. Many people tell me that they don't want to be constantly reminded of their diagnosis when they look in the mirror, or when they see friends and family out in public. For many women, creativity with wigs, scarves and hats can make a big difference.

Also, explore skin care products to moisturize and care for the face and body. Makeup can recreate eyebrows and add vibrant color to your face, lips and eyes. These are just a few ideas that may boost your spirit as you makeover your skin and hair. Many have stated that doing this can help to keep a sense of comfort and normality as you deal with the additional physical and emotional effects of cancer treatment.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has supportive resources to help with hair and skin care. Their Look Good ... Feel Better program is available in most U.S. communities and internationally ( or call 1-800-395-LOOK). The ACS program is designed to meet the needs of men and women, and has a special program for teens.

I'd love to hear of your experiences, resources and ideas on this topic.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

March 10, 2012