Can body creams be used during radiotherapy?


In general, body creams should not be used before the radiotherapy sessions because the skin must be as dry as possible before irradiation. 

Depending on the area to be treated, the application of a cream or ointment may not be recommended. Indeed, although some radiotherapy treatments (radiotherapy of breast, ENT, vulva or anal canal tumors) can cause skin reactions (redness, like a sunburn) during the treatment, most radiotherapy treatments do not induce any skin toxicity. This depends on the dose delivered to the skin. Therefore, skin reactions are more likely when the treated area is located immediately under the skin. However, these side effects disappear after the treatment end. On the other hand, radiotherapy for tumors located “deep down”, such as tumors in the abdomen or pelvis and lung cancer, give very few adverse skin reactions. Some systemic treatments (chemotherapy, targeted therapies) are likely to increase the risk of skin side effects and therefore, the oncologist may decide to stop them during the radiotherapy treatment.

Currently, there is no “miracle cream” to prevent and/or treat skin toxicities caused by radiotherapy. The most important thing is to follow the instructions given by the radiation oncologist and nurses. The application of cream before the sessions is contraindicated because the skin must be as dry as possible before irradiation. It is also recommended to wear loose-fitting clothing to limit friction with the skin. Patients who experience mild skin toxicities may use an emollient cream that contains hyaluronic acid. To patients with severe skin damage (intense redness, scaling) during treatment, the doctor or nurses will propose healing/reconstructive creams.