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Good Skin Care Tips

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:

  • Ointments and creams provide the greatest moisturizing power. They are the best moisturizing products to use on skin because they contain a high content of oil that leads to greater penetration and more staying power.
  • Avoid lotions as they are made with mostly water and little oil. Avoid gels as they contain alcohol or acetone that can be drying to skin. Avoid moisturizers that contain perfume and dyes.
  • Apply moisturizers frequently, at least 2 to 3 times daily, to keep skin from drying. You may need to try different products before finding the ones that work best for you.
  • Moisturize the skin while damp because moisturizing lotions and lubricating ointments can trap water against the skin and provide longer relief from dryness. When skin gets dry and flaky, apply a lubricating ointment with lanolin such as petroleum jelly or AquaphorTM. Patients often need to lubricate and moisturize skin many times daily.

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.

Laundry Detergents
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.

Sun Protection
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.

Additional Tips

  • Other tips for keeping skin comfortable include:
  • Wearing loose-fitting, comfortable fabrics that ‘breathe.’ Cotton is best. Avoid rough, scratchy fabrics like wool.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothing.
  • Do not scrub skin or rub harshly.
  • Keep fingernails short to prevent infection and skin damage.
  • Avoid getting over-heated. Sweating worsens itch.
  • Find ways to manage stress as stress can trigger flare-ups in cutaneous lymphoma and increase itching.
Good Skin Care Tips
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