Caring for skin & hair after chemotherapy
  • Shampoo & styling
  • Skin care

Caring for skin & hair after chemotherapy

Here, we discuss the benefits of avoiding harsh chemicals after chemotherapy and reveal the Green People products that can help to care for your hair and skin.

By Hannah Mepham

6 Minute read

If you’ve undergone treatment for cancer it is likely that you have experienced a change to your hair or skin.

Caring for skin and hair after chemotherapy

The drugs used on cancer patients can have a toxic effect on skin and hair follicles[i] and, depending on the form of cancer you have and the treatment you undergo, you can find that your skin becomes dry and that your hair gets thin, patchy or even falls out[ii].

Often the hair will re-grow, but during the re-growth period both the hair and skin on the scalp can be particularly itchy and sensitive to chemicals[iii].

For this reason, specialists such as The Royal Marsden hospital recommend that cancer patients consider changing the way they care for the hair and scalp and switch to mild personal care products[iv].

Here, we discuss the benefits of avoiding harsh chemicals after chemotherapy and reveal the Green People products that can help to care for your hair and skin.

Shampoo and conditioner for after chemotherapy

  • When the hair re-grows it can be fine and vulnerable to falling out. This risk can be minimised by using mild shampoos, limiting washing the hair to bi-weekly and avoiding vigorously massaging the scalp[v].
  • Hair can be very dry after chemotherapy and the scalp may become irritated by chemicals and oils that are commonly used in hair care formulas.
  • To hydrate the follicles and minimise irritation, use our Neutral Shampoo and Conditioner. SLS and fragrance free they clean the hair whilst being gentle on the scalp.

Skin care for after chemotherapy

  • Depending on your skin type and the type of cancer treatment you have, you might find that your skin becomes dryer, itchier or is increasingly sensitive to sunlight[vi] after treatment.
  • To minimise discomfort, avoid perfumed, soapy products[vii] that can dry and irritate the skin.
  • Instead use gentle, SLS free products that cleanse the skin without drying it.
  • To help maintain the skin’s natural barriers pat our Neutral Scent Free 24 Hour Cream onto clean, dry, skin, taking care not to rub it and risk further irritation.

Deodorant and shower gel for after chemotherapy

  • Some people may be concerned that the harsh chemicals used in antiperspirants can cause the skin under the arms to become sensitive and sore.
  • Others may be concerned that non-natural ingredients could be absorbed into the body and affect other organs.
  • For many, these factors are enough of a concern to make them want to switch to a natural alternative that doesn’t clog the pores and prevent the body from eliminating toxins through perspiration.
  • For a gentle, perfume and paraben free deodorant try our Neutral Scent-Free Deodorant. Suitable for sensitive skin it contains prebiotics which support the skin’s healthy flora.

Toothpastes for sensitive teeth and gums

  • After undergoing Chemotherapy you might find that foaming agents like SLS and Triclosan irritate the gums[viii]. Dry mouth and ulcers are also common side effects[ix].
  • Switching to natural, non-foaming toothpaste could help to alleviate bleeding or sore gums.
  • To help relieve dry mouth, look for products that contain Betaine, a natural ingredient that helps boost salvia production.
  • All Green People toothpastes contain Betaine and are free from SLS and Triclosan so, you can care for your teeth safe in the knowledge you won’t aggravate sensitive gums.

Jasmine's journey

Jasmine underwent chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Whilst the treatment successfully targeted the cancerous cells, Jasmine noticed dramatic changes to her hair skin and nails.

Jasmine was advised to use a mild, baby shampoo on her hair but came to us for help after noticing her hair felt dry and the products she was using were causing her to break-out in spots on her scalp. She also told us that whilst undergoing treatment she developed ulcers in the mouth and found that her skin had become flaky, leaving her with sore feet and hands that felt like sandpaper.

Deodorant was also a huge concern to Jasmine who told us; ‘I was fortunate enough that actually the cancer hasn’t spread under my armpit, but I just didn’t want to wear anything perfumed under the arm pit’.

Understanding Jasmine’s concerns, we recommended our Scent Free personal care range. You can find out how she got on with it in the video below:

3 steps to going chemical-free after chemotherapy

If, like Jasmine, you want to go chemical free after Chemotherapy we’ve developed a simple 3 step routine that you can follow:

1) CHECK: Being diagnosed with and treated for cancer can trigger many changes to the body and for this reason it is important that, before making any major changes to your skin or hair routine, you conduct a patch-test and seek guidance from your specialist about the types of products you should avoid, and which products and ingredients might be suitable for you.

2) CHOOSE: Before choosing a product check the label for natural, skin soothing ingredients. Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Green Tea, Jojoba, Perilla and Calendula are all gentle on sensitive skin and have soothing benefits. Avoid using harsh synthetic chemicals such as SLS, phthalates, parabens and triclosan as these are known to irritate the skin.

3) CHANGE: Alter the way you apply products and take your time to apply them gently. To minimise the risk of irritation pat the skin instead of rubbing-in creams and do not wash the hair vigorously as this can harm vulnerable hair follicles. Remember, if you experience any irritation when using a product, it is important that you stop using it until you have spoken to your specialist.

Are you wanting to switch to chemical free products after chemotherapy? Our customer care team are happy to help you identify which of our natural skin care products might be suitable for your skin. Please call us on 01403 740350 or email organic@greenpeople.co.uk.

[i] https://www.trichologists.org.uk/index.php/conditions/hair-conditions

[ii] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/chemotherapy/living-with/hair-dye?_ga=2.75466523.886049625.1516810319-1105024071.1516810319

[iii] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/hair-loss/tips-to-help-you-look-after-hair-and-skin.html#247874

[iv] https://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/your-care/living-and-beyond-cancer/hair-loss-and-hair-care

[v] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/hair-loss/after-treatment.html#11726

[vi] https://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/your-care/treatments/chemotherapy/effects-and-side-effects/chemotherapy-side-effects-skin

[vii] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/changes-to-appearance-and-body-image/changes-during-treatment/caring-for-skin-and-nails.html#46097

[viii] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/mouth-problems/looking-after-your-mouth-during-chemotherapy.html#162955

[ix] https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/mouth-problems/how-chemotherapy-can-affect-your-mouth.html

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