Radiotherapy during cancer
Radiation therapy at high doses aims to kill cancer cells while slowing their growth. Damage to the Cancer cells prevents their ability to repair and divide eventually causing cell death. When the damaged cells die, they are broken down and removed by the body.
Radiation therapy does not instantly kill cells and the process of cell death may take days or weeks of treatment. Side effects come from damage to healthy cells and tissues near the treatment area.
The inflammation caused by the radiation beams passing through normal tissue results in the acute side effects. These side effects peak about a week after the treatment has finished. Most side effects will be greatly improved by about 6 weeks after the treatment has finished.
Skin irritation from treatment
Some people who receive radiation therapy experience damage to the basal cell layer of the skin that results in inflammation, erythema, and dry or moist desquamation, this often is termed a cutaneous radiation injury (CRI).
Erythema can occur within a few hours of exposure (usually involves itchiness and redness) and can further be followed by a latent phase lasting from a few days to several weeks
Skin changes from radiation therapy usually improve once treatment finishes but can cause irritating symptoms of pain and itchiness during treatment periods.
The signs and symptoms of CRI are as follows:
-Intensely painful burn-like skin injuries (including itching, tingling, erythema, or edema) without a history of exposure to heat or caustic chemicals Note: Erythema will not be seen for hours to days following exposure, and its appearance is cyclic.
Read more: (professional brochure): Source CDC
In severe cases irradiation of the ski can leads pattern of direct tissue injury involving damage to skin cells including the epidermis and endothelial cells. this can have an effect on skin health by disrupting normal processes within the walls of blood vessels, as well as inflammatory cell recruitment.
Alhydran as a skin barrier treatment
Medical Moisture Retention Cream (MMRC, Alhydran®) was first introduced in 2005 as a promising product for maintaining the TEWL (trans epidermal water loss) and improve the hydration status of the skin. Alhydran has since been used globally for the treatment of disrupted skin barrier treatment (ie burns, surgical incisions, radiation therapy) for the prevention of hypertrophic scarring.
van Leen MWF 2021 paper showed Alhydran has a relevant base in skin health improvements, indicated by the prevention and reduction of hypertrophic scarring, increased elasticity of the skin and reduction of itching. This can be interpreted to have a substantial improvement in patient QOL.
Currently we at OneUp Rehab Solutions are building awareness of this treatment in New Zealand. If you have patients who would like to learn more please contact our sales team.
6) van Leen, M. W. F., Hoeksema, S. H., & Schols, J. M. G. A. (2021). MMRC (Alhydran®), an Interesting Treatment Option for a Disrupted Skin Barrier. J Gerontol Geriatr Med, 7(083), 2