How to Take Care of Your Skin After Breast Cancer
Oh, Spring is here at last and we are shedding our coats and layers of camouflage for short sleeves and the hope of warmer weather. Our skin is our body’s largest organ and so often it is overlooked when it’s been covered all winter. According to the American Academy of Dermatology “your skin shows how healthy you are on the inside”.
What Are The Layers Of The Skin
The Integumentary system is what the skin is called. The layers of our skin help to protect and regulate our body everyday. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin. The epidermis it the most important layer to take care of daily.
When it becomes cracked, scaly, dry or broken it is an invitation for problems. In a healthy immune system, our body can ward off all these pesky little germs without a problem, but if our immune system is compromised at all, the skin tells all.
Lake City PT’s physiotherapists always assess the integumentary system every time we see you. We look for signs of change in your skin. We look at the texture, the temperature, the turgor, the color, and the moisture of the skin.
We check to ensure breast cancer scar lines are healing, that they are soft and supple without excessive thickening (keloids). We instruct in proper wound care to improve the rate of healing. We monitor the tissue to check its sensitivity after radiation, chemotherapy or use of certain medicines to keep the skin as healthy as possible.
We check to see that the skin is flexible and pliable and that scars and bruising do not produce restrictions so skin can’t move freely. If there is excessive swelling due to injury, such as an ankle sprain or twisted knee, the skin gets stretched and loses the natural tone and proprioception, which makes the joint feel unstable, so we utilize techniques such as edema reduction massage and kinesiotex taping and cold laser therapy to restore the skin and surrounding tissue.
How To Keep Skin Healthy
Remember, your skin has a natural acid mantle that destroys the germs that we come in contact with on a daily basis. It is when we don’t take care of our skin that it can become a problem.
It is that little hangnail or paper cut can cause all kinds of problems and pain, especially for immune compromised individuals. Our skin can be adversely affected by the excessive use of harsh soaps, chemicals, antibacterial wipes and gels, detergents, constant changes in temperatures, burns, and poor daily skin care.
What Is Good Skin Care
So what is good skin care? According to the Mayo Clinic, there are five very basic skin care tips. Protect yourself from excessive sun exposure, don’t smoke, treat your skin gently, eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean proteins (increase your Vitamin C intake), and learn to manage your stress.
Lake City PT’s Coeur d Alene physical therapists understand the need for healthy skin everyday. We teach healthy skin care techniques, such as the use of mild soaps, which are often cream based, natural cleaning products, and lotions that do not contain alcohol, or drying agents.
It is best after showering or washing your hands to put lotion on to keep the skins’ protective barrier lubricated, and then it is less susceptible to skin breakdown due to harsh weather, excessive temperature changes and other daily contacted irritants. When you are cleaning and doing the dishes, it is best to use hypoallergenic gloves that do not allow exposure of the skin to chemicals.
If you have a blister, we suggest you leave the outer layer alone, because the next layer of skin can heal the best, when it is covered by its own protective tissue instead of a Band-aid.We suggest that you keep your nails clipped and clean and use a finger brush under your nails if they are long because that is where bacteria and fungus like to linger.
We encourage you that if you do have a scar that you keep it clean and soft, not wet. If you already have a scab, you can merely keep it soft and supple to ensure the best healing, and never pull off a scab.
What Is Cold Laser Therapy
In physical therapy, we often use cold laser therapy to improve the healing and health of the skin after surgery, to increase healing times of scars and wounds and improve the soft tissue flexibility. If you have a scar, wound or any tissue that you think is inhibiting your normal ability to move, cold laser therapy is a great avenue to try to return your skin and surrounding tissue to normal.
Our skin should be radiant and glowing. When we think of it as an outward expression of what’s inside of us, we will begin to see what it is trying to tell us. Are we taking care of ourselves the way we should, on the inside and the outside? What is your skin telling all?