Article previously published in the Cutaneous Lymphoma Foundation's Forum Winter 2012 newsletter.
Cutaneous lymphoma, as well as some treatments for this disease, can make skin dry, itchy, and scaly. Following you will find a variety of tips that can help you with your skin care:
Moisturizing is one of the most important components of good skin care. Adequate moisturizing plays a key role in keeping skin healthy, by thickening the barrier function as well as keeping you comfortable. Decreasing dryness can alleviate some of the itching that are often experienced. A simple, effective way to decrease dryness is to frequently apply moisturizers or emollients.
With so many different moisturizers on the market today, it can be difficult to decide which ones to use. Here are some tips to follow when comparing products:
Another important consideration is bathing. Bathing or showering in lukewarm – not hot – water is recommended as hot water tends to melt the natural oils from our skin and can leave our skin drier than before. Hot water also causes a surge of blood flow to the skin, which can increase itching once patients emerge from the shower or bath. Be sure to keep baths and showers brief, no longer than 15 minutes.
Also, the best time to apply moisturizers/emollients is after bathing, when skin is still moist. Applying moisturizer (or topical medication in an emollient) on damp skin helps seal hydration into the skin’s outer layers.
Soaps and Cleansers
With regard to soaps or cleansers, less is better. Try a moisturizing soap that contains extra oils. Avoid heavily-fragranced soaps because to infuse a product with fragrance it must first be dissolved in alcohol, which is drying to the skin. Choose soaps and moisturizers that are labeled fragrance-free. DoveTM, Eucerin,TM LubridermTM, CurelTM, and CetaphilTM are some examples. Avoid antibacterial or deodorant soaps, as they may be too drying for cutaneous lymphoma patients.
Be advised that laundry detergents can affect skin as well. Choose a fragrance-free detergent. Fabric softeners often have fragrances, too, so look for fragrance-free fabric softener. Fabric softener sheets added to the dryer are often the worst product for people with sensitive skin because the fragrances directly coat clothing, which comes into direct contact with the skin and can be a constant source of irritation.
Too much sun is damaging to skin. Use sunscreen, wear a hat with a brim, and consider wearing long-sleeves and pants year-round. If you receive light therapy as part of your treatment, your doctor may advise you to wear UV-blocking sunglasses. However, for some people with cutaneous lymphoma, small amounts of sunlight may actually be good for your skin. Discuss with your doctor which protocol is best for you.