Radiation is a common treatment protocol for cancer and it is highly successful in many cases. While it can be a life saving choice to proceed with radiation treatment, it can also cause some painful side effects including burns to your skin. In the beginning, the skin will look red and slightly inflamed, like you spent too much time out in the sun. Over time, the skin can blister, dry out, or even have changes in color. To counteract these painful side effects, here are some ways to cope with radiation treatment for burns.
First, you can use topical creams to soothe radiation treatment for burns. You can find many lotions and ointments sold over-the-counter at any drug store. In some cases, your doctor might recommend an ointment that will both soothe your skin and give you some gentle pain relief at the same time. If you develop radiation dermatitis, applying a topical cream or ointment several times each day can be a major help to push your skin towards healing after the trauma of radiation.
If you have serious burns following radiation, your doctor may give you a prescription for pain medication. Take this medicine as directed and be sure you take it right on schedule. The key to effective pain management after radiation treatment for burns is mostly about staying ahead of the pain. If you wait to take your pain medicine when you are already miserable and experiencing a lot of discomfort, it can take a while for the medication to catch up with your pain level. However, if you keep a constant stream of medication in your body, it can prevent the pain from ever becoming so overwhelming that you can’t function.
For the most severe burns after radiation, the doctor may recommend a period of time in the hospital. If your burns are deep or cause blistering over a large area, you might need to wrap the area in sterile gauze or possibly have skin grafts at some point to cover the damaged portion of your skin. Most patients do not have burns that reach such extremes, but depending on the type of cancer you are fighting and how widespread it is, radiation could cause this kind of complication. Talk to your doctor before beginning radiation and ask about ways to minimize the risks for severe burning.
Most of all, remember that the painful skin problems won’t last forever. This is a small price to pay for the treatment that has saved your life! With the help of topical ointments, pain medication, and help from your doctor, you can handle the side effects of radiation treatment for burns and live a long, healthy life in remission following your treatments.