Radiotherapy won’t make you glow (contrary to some misleading information), but there are some physical and visual side effects people with skin cancer should be aware of before pursuing it as a treatment option. Usually, the side effects are limited to the area where treatment was given. What are the visual side effects of superficial radiation therapy? Here are the most common:
- Mild to moderate irritation, redness, thinning, or breakdown of the skin that was treated. This may increase the risk of a skin infection. These side effects can be treated by your doctor and usually disappear within 2 to 6 weeks after treatment ends.
- Some people may notice that the skin that was treated becomes darker or lighter. Hair loss may also happen to the skin that was treated.
- Rare side effects include a skin ulcer that doesn’t heal and another cancer forming in the same area 20 to 40 years after treatment.
What Does Skin Look Like After Radiation Therapy?
What the skin looks like after radiotherapy can depend on skin type and the area where treatment was given. As mentioned above, radiotherapy can cause the skin that was treated to become dry. The skin might also peel, burn, and itch, which is known as “pruritus.” The color of the skin might also change, turning red or a darker color. Visually, the skin may look sunburned and puffy.
People receiving radiotherapy can also have what’s known as a “moist reaction,” which is when the skin becomes moist and painful. This typically occurs where the skin folds, such as behind the ears. Ulcers or sores can develop, which increases the risk of infection.
How Long Does it Take for Skin to Return to Normal After Radiation?
Typically, symptoms like moderate irritation, redness, thinning, or breakdown of the skin begin to clear up after 2 to 6 weeks after Image-Guided SRT. It’s important to note that these visual side effects develop gradually throughout the course of radiation therapy treatment – not right away. Your doctor will closely monitor any reactions your skin might be having to the treatment. If you feel any soreness, or notice any other symptoms, be sure to let them know immediately so you’re both on the same page.
Learn More About Image-Guided SRT with GentleCure™
Compared to Mohs, Image-Guided SRT is a surgery-free form of treatment for basal and squamous cell skin cancer. The skin cancer information specialists at GentleCure can answer your questions about Image-Guided SRT and its possible side effects, as well as its cure rate and patient satisfaction rate. Contact us online or call us today for more information, or use our search tool to find an Image-Guided SRT location near you.