One of the more miserable side effects of cancer can be the way it affects what’s going on in your mouth. If you have painful ulcers, one of the best things you can do to help is having a good oral hygiene routine.
- Keep your mouth clean by brushing gently every morning and night, between meals if possible
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and an interdental brush or floss to get between teeth
- Cut down on the sugary drinks and food
- See your dentist regularly and tell them about your treatment and if it’s affected your teeth.
Deodorants and antiperspirants
Your skin can become sensitive during treatment, and that includes under your arms. Surely your pits deserve the same TLC as anywhere else!
- Try gentle scent-free deodorants with natural ingredients when your skin is sensitive
- Roll-ons are often good as they can be more comfortable to apply than spray
- Speak to the team at your hospital if you have any questions about these.
Brittle and ridged nails can be another effect of chemo. Keep them moisturised and once treatment finishes, your nails should become stronger again.
- Try out a simple nail oil or non-perfumed hand cream which can be found in the health and beauty sections of most pharmacies and supermarkets
- Use a water-based polish, or buff them instead for a nice shine
- Avoid using fake or gel nails during treatment.
You might have lost your body hair but if shaving is still something you still need to deal with, using a razor blade on sensitive skin isn't ideal, especially as you might be at a greater risk of infection.
- Electric razors are kinder to skin and can be just as good – check with your care team first
- Stay away from waxing and hair removal creams
- Make sure everything you use is clean, your products are gentle, and take your time to avoid nicks and cuts.
Washing and skincare
Cancer treatments can leave your skin more sensitive and sore than usual. Your care team can help with any questions you have, especially if you’re receiving radiotherapy treatment or dealing with skin conditions like acne or eczema.
- Try to keep up a good skincare routine and look out for mild or gentle ranges of products such as cleansers, toners and moisturisers – they will still do the job
- Avoid strong fragrances if you’re feeling nauseous
- Use sun creams or moisturisers with a high sun protection factor (SPF), and cover up with light, loose-fitting clothing.
- Look after your hair - hair care, hair loss and wigs
- Look after your appearance - makeup, tattoos and piercings
- Look after your wellbeing - diet, exercise, vitamins and therapies
Created June 2017, next review due June 2018.