All cancer treatments have side effects, but some people are surprised to discover different skin changes that can happen. 

Skin side effects from cancer treatments are often not severe, but some symptoms can be apparent.

Different cancer treatments can lead to specific skin side effects like loss of collagen, hyperpigmentation, peeling, swollen skin, and flakey and dry, itchy skin. It’s helpful to break down the different cancer treatments to understand how they affect the skin. 

Different types of cancer treatments

There are many types of cancer treatments, and a few are listed below. The treatment you receive will depend on your cancer type, and while some people only receive one type of cancer treatment, others will receive a combination of treatments. 


Chemotherapy is a drug treatment used to kill cancer cells. Some typical side effects of chemotherapy drug treatments are rashes that can appear on the body, swelling, dry skin, and itchiness. 

Targeted Therapies

Targeted therapies are treatments that aim at specific genes or proteins that contribute to cancer growth.

This treatment can bring on an acne-type rash on the face or body. 


This type of cancer treatment works by boosting the body’s immune system and helping it fight off cancer. Immunotherapy drugs treat many kinds of cancer but are not as commonly used as chemotherapy. Some of the skin side effects of immunology include psoriasis, blistered skin, and red bumpy patches.

Are these skin changes permanent?

Most of these skin changes and side effects will fade after your treatment. How long side effects last can depend on the type of treatment you had and other factors like age and type of cancer. Give your skin time to heal, and be patient with your healing process. The good news is that many skin treatments are available to help your skin recover from side effects. Specific ingredients will help target the healing process better than others. 

How can I prepare for skin side effects?

It’s essential to get your skin in good condition before treatment. Make sure to moisturize your skin daily to get it in good condition. Talk with your doctor beforehand if you suffer from eczema or psoriasis. Make sure to wear good sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun. Certain medications can make you more prone to photosensitivity. 

Final thoughts

The skin side effects you may experience will depend on the type of cancer treatment you receive. Talk with your healthcare provider about what to expect to happen with your skin during your treatment process. 

Make a list of questions to ask your health care provider that include things like:

What kind of side effects are familiar with my particular treatment?

How can I prevent or lessen any side effects I may experience?

What are some side effects to be concerned about?

When do these side effects start after treatments begin?

What types of ingredients are a good fit to use during treatment?

Are certain products best to be avoided during these treatments?

 As an aesthetician, I can help develop a skin-saving routine for you through this process. Keep an eye out for my list of oncology-safe products to use later in the month.

Have questions? I’m here to help! 


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