Skin care is an important topic for every individual, but for cutaneous lymphoma patients, skin care can be the key to greatly improving your quality of life. By educating yourself about your skin, there are many things that you can do to keep your skin moisturized, soft and comfortable.
Skin is covered with a thin layer of oil that serves as a protective agent and seals in water, keeping skin moisturized. When this layer is removed, or for patients who do not produce enough oil, skin will quickly dry out leading to increased discomfort, dryness and redness. By keeping the skin hydrated and maintaining proper oil content under the surface, it is often possible to prevent or improve rashes.
Here are a few general tips to keep in mind at home; keeping skin properly hydrated will help to improve your daily life:
Tips for Bathing
It is important to maintain a warm temperature and not allow your skin to become too cold; skin will dry out faster in cooler temperatures. Humidifiers or flat pans of water on radiators are also helpful to maintain moisture in your home, especially the bedroom as proper sleeping temperatures are very important to avoid sweating or extreme cold.
When selecting clothing to keep skin comfortable, opt for fabrics made of cotton and/or cotton-synthetic blends; wool and pure synthetic fabrics, while warm, can be irritating and abrasive to the skin. Looser-fitting garments are also optimal as tight, close-fitting clothes may agitate skin. Starch should also be avoided, especially in bed sheets.
Laundry detergent can affect your clothing and thus the sensitivity of skin as well. Detergents should be unscented and free of bleach. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets should be avoided as well.
Bathing is a topic perhaps not widely discussed, but is extremely important in skin care. Many simple things can be changed and/or added into your bathing routine to keep you comfortable and as irritant-free as possible. Below are some important factors to consider in regards to bathing:
Water temperature is important when bathing – water should be kept lukewarm, not hot. Bathing for extended periods of time is also not recommended as extensive exposure to water will ultimately dry the skin.
Soap should be used sparingly and it is important to avoid lathering areas that may already be dry or irritated. Mild, unscented soaps are gentle and optimal; avoid perfumes and dyes in soaps. Brands like Dove Sensitive Skin, Cetaphil, and California Baby are great options.
The drying process is equally important and bathroom temperatures must remain cool and as steam-free as possible. Pat yourself dry (do not rub) with a soft, dry towel; you may chose to dry off in another room if the bathroom has become damp or steamy.
After skin has been dried but is still damp, apply a moisturizer/emollient to seal in moisture.
Following the bathing process, moisturizing is key in keeping skin comfortable. By understanding the three basic types of moisturizers, you will be able to select the right options for your skin:
The first type, occlusives prevent the evaporation of water from the skin. Examples include petroleum jelly, mineral oil, lanolin and beeswax.
The next type, humectants contain water-attracting molecules which grab and hold water in. Examples include glycerin, propylene glycol, sorbitol and panthenol.
Lastly, emollients sink into the skin and bind skin cells back together. Examples are silicones, jojaba oil and propylene glycol.
While everyone’s skin is different, as a general rule, it is best to apply a humectant-rich moisturizer immediately after showering when skin is still damp. Next, apply an emollient-based moisturizer, and seal everything in with an occlusive oil.
With the proper care, skin can often be improved in many cutaneous lymphoma patients. It is important to note that products do not always have to be the most expensive. Quality ingredients are much more important than cost. By knowing the basics about skin care products, you will hopefully be able to improve your quality of life and live your best life possible.
This article and other patient resources can be found at CLF Online Learning Center http://www.clfoundation.org/online-learning-center.