Skip to main content


Caring for your skin during radiation therapy


You will need to take special care of the skin in the area where radiation treatments are given. The skin in this area is easily hurt and needs to be protected from injury.

  • Wash the area with warm water, not hot. Use a mild soap, like Ivory, Dove, or Basis. Use a mild shampoo, like a baby shampoo. Wash softly, rinse well, and pat dry. Do not rub or scrub this area.
  • Do not scratch the skin in the treated area. If the skin is dry or itchy, tell your radiation doctor or nurse. This staff member will order a special lotion for your child. Only use the lotions that are ordered for your child by the doctor or nurse. Do not use greasy or oily lotion, cream, or salve in the treatment area. Do not use any lotion within 1 hour before a radiation treatment.
  • If your child is receiving radiation treatments to the underarms, she should not use antiperspirants.
  • Your child should wear soft, loose clothing and keep the treated area uncovered as much as possible. Your child should not wear tight jeans or panty hose if she is getting radiation treatments below her waist.
  • If your child is getting radiation treatments to her head, she should not wear tight hats.
  • Protect the treated area from the sun. Keep it covered if your child is going to be outdoors in the sun for more than 15 minutes. Go out in the sun before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. Your child can wear sunscreen lotion, but be sure to wash it off before radiation treatments.
  • Rinse well after swimming in swimming pools.
  • Do not shave the treatment area.
  • Do not expose the area to heat or cold, such as hot packs, hot blow dryers, or ice packs.

Skin changes happen gradually. During the second or third week of treatment, you may notice dryness, tanning, itching, or redness. Please let your child’s radiation doctor or nurse know when this happens. These changes are normal. The skin will heal quickly after treatment is finished.

After your child’s last radiation therapy treatment

  • Leave the special marks on your child’s skin until she has received her last treatment. The marks will gradually fade away. If you want to remove them quickly, you can put any kind of lotion on them. Do not scrub the marks or the skin.

Continue to protect the skin in the treated area from any further injury, especially sunburn. Efforts to protect your child’s skin will be life-long. If your child will be outdoors in sunlight for more than 15 minutes, she should use a sunscreen lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher.

If you have further questions about caring for your child’s skin during or after radiation therapy, talk to the doctor or nurse in your child’s primary clinic or to a doctor or nurse in Radiation Oncology.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).