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Skin & Nail Care

During treatment you are more prone to infection from your own bacteria (germs). It is important to keep your skin clean and dry. Treatment may also cause skin changes such as dryness or a change in tone and /or color.

Skin Care:

  • Wash your hands often during the day - especially before eating and after using the bathroom.
  • Shower, bathe, or sponge bathe every day.
  • Use soap with a low pH (4.5-6.0), which is most like your skin's protective acid layer. Most soaps are alkaline, and actually reduce the skin's protection from infection. Soaps such as Ivory, Basis and Dove have a low pH. Soapless cleansers are very gentle and should also have a low pH. Eucerin Shower Therapy is a good example of one. For questions about your soap, call the product's (800) number.
  • Moisturizing the skin keeps it healthy and prevents dryness and cracking. Use lotions with a low pH (4.5-6.0), which is like your skin's protective acid layer. Some lotions that have a low pH are Eucerin, Curel, Dermatherapy and Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion. For questions about your lotion, call the (800) number on the lotion package.
  • If you are receiving radiation see "Skin Care with Radiation Therapy."
  • Perform daily skin checks! Look for cuts, abrasions, insect bites, cracked/torn cuticles, hangnails, ingrown toenails, redness, tenderness and "hot spots."
  • Clean minor cuts and scrapes with warm water, soap and antiseptic.
  • Watch for signs and symptoms of infections such as rash, sores, redness, drainage, swelling, tenderness, pain, fever of 101ºF or higher, sweating or chills.
  • Avoid exposure to ultraviolet rays (sun and tanning booths). Use SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on all exposed skin, including the scalp.

Nail Care:

  • Cuticles: Keep moist with lotion and pushed back. Do not cut cuticles. If cuticles are dry and cracked, cleanse thoroughly and apply lotion. Cotton gloves may be worn over the lotion during the night to help keep them soft.
  • Nail polish: Nail polish is fine to use.
  • False nails: These are not to be used when receiving treatment. Since treatment can lower your immune system, you may get a severe fungal infection.
  • Nail care by a salon: Make sure that instruments are thoroughly disinfected between clients. You may want to bring your own instruments. It is best to go to the same manicurist.

Notify your nurse, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician if any skin or nail changes occur.

© 2014 Karmanos Cancer Institute Pencil
The Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Center is accredited by The Joint Commission.
If members of the public have any quality-of-care or safety concerns, they may notify The Joint Commission at 630-792-5800.