How can Mom prevent dry skin and scalp during chemo with Taxol?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My mother was recently diagnosed with uterine cancer. It was stage 1A carcinosarcoma, but had invaded the vascular wall of her uterus. It was diagnosed as uterine papillary serous carcinoma.

She has gone through her first round of chemo (Taxol). Her hair is starting to fall out more now. I need to know what is really good for her to keep her skin and scalp from drying out. I was thinking oils like extra virgin olive oil, but want to make sure I recommend the right things to her.

We went through chemo class in Edina, MN at the oncology center, but the film we saw moved so rapidly I didn't get enough of it written down. I would appreciate any information you could give me regarding care for her scalp, skin, and mucous membranes to make sure she stays as comfortable as she can possibly be.

Expert Answer

Linda Ackerman, R.N. has clinical experience in oncology, women's health, and medical nursing. She has been practicing for more than 20 years and is a licensed registered nurse in both Florida and Wisconsin. In addition, she serves as a board member of Breast Cancer Recovery and the Wisconsin Cancer Council.

Thank you for this question. It sounds like you are taking an active supportive role in helping your mother manage her treatment.

I would recommend the following information and tips:

Contact the oncology center, and request that you and your mother have the opportunity to view the film again. In addition, you may want to request an appointment time with one of the nurses so your questions can be answered very specific to your mother's needs.

Additional helpful tips:

"¢ Avoid long, hot showers or baths.

"¢ Use gentle, fragrance-free soaps and laundry detergent.

"¢ Use moisturizers, preferably creams or ointments rather than lotions because the thicker consistency is better at preventing skin dehydration. Apply the cream or ointment within 15 minutes of showering. Reapply moisturizer at night, and moisturize your hands every time after you wash them.

"¢ If your skin is very dry and flaky, some over the counter creams are often used such as, eucerin's aquaphor or nivea, sometimes the oncologist may recommend a prescription cream such as ammonium lactate cream which can also increase moisture.

"¢ Some chemotherapy drugs make skin more susceptible to sunburn. Use a sunblock with at least an SPF 30, and make sure that it protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Protection against UVA requires ingredients such as zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or avobenzone.

"¢ If you are going to be exposed to the sun, use a broad-brimmed hat, sun-protective clothing, and an SPF of 30 reapplied every two hours.

I would also encourage your mother to drink adequate fluids during, before and after chemotherapy if possible and to try to continue to eat a balanced diet with enough protein, carbohydrates and essential vitamins if possible will help in maintaining healthy skin.