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Topic: Itching and Red Bumps during Radiation

Forum: Radiation Therapy - Before, During, and After —

What to expect from treatment and ways to cope with side effects.

Posted on: Apr 12, 2009 11:44PM

Jeanne_D wrote:

Does anyone else have the itching and the red bumps that I have?  I just finished #19 of 37 radiation treatments.  I have used hydrocortisone creme, but, it doesn't seem to take away all of the itching and the red bumps are still there. 

Dx 1/8/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 13, 2009 02:19AM Eldub wrote:

Hi Jeanne,  I'm sorry you're so uncomfortable already.  I can relate - especially to the itching.  Not so much the red bumps - though I was pink after two treatments and pretty darn red by treatment #16. (I then changed what I was using on my skin and things got a lot better until just the last few days.)  I've completed 27 treatments - have my last full breast radiation treatment tomorrow, then 5 boosts.  At this point my whole breast is red and sort of mottled looking.  And it's tender - especially in my armpit.  But the hardest part is the ITCHING!!  This really started a couple of weeks ago - around treatment 14-15?  It has gotten more intense over time.  I have one Aloe Vera based lotion that gives me an hour or so of relief from the itch.  Unfortunately, it also contains Vitamin E (which my doc forbids during radiation...), so I am using it very sparingly.  I've found that Calendula ointment also helps for a while - it's not my favorite, as it's petroleum based and greasy - but I've been using it quite a bit the last couple of days as it seems to also help the best with the burn in my armpit.  Another product I'm just trying - called "Radx" - also seems to quell the itch (though not as well as the stuff with Vit E, darn it).  I do think the Radx helps with the burn, though - after using either that or Calendula ointment, my skin is less red even just an hour later.  Nothing else I've tried (Biafine, My girls Radiation Cream, Aquaphor) makes a dent in the itch.  I was planning to ask the doctor about hydrocortisone cream tomorrow, though it sounds like that might not be much better. :(  I've had it suggested that Benedryl might help.  I'm willing to give it a try.  I've also tried just sort of "paying attention" to the itch.  kind of a meditation technique.  REALLY paying attention to it, instead of being so determined to make it go away.  I know, sounds crazy, but when I can do it (I've tried mostly when trying to fall asleep and the itch is driving me bonkers), it has actually worked pretty well.

Anyway, I don't know if any of that is any help at all...  I figured, if nothing else, at least you'd know you weren't the only one dealing with this!!

Best to you,

Linda

BRCA- but family cancer hx. I'm also the mom to a very busy toddler! Dx 12/3/2008, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/1 nodes, ER-/PR-
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Apr 14, 2009 10:53PM - edited Apr 14, 2009 11:22PM by PaminFL

Jeanne-

I got those same red bumps back when I did radiation (back in Jan.- Feb.).  At first, I thought it was some allergic reaction (it started with just a few small bumps around rad # 20). I  put  hydrocotisone on it and it did not help the itching at all and didn't get rid of the bumps.  Then, as the treatments went on the itching and the bumps got worse.  My skin eventually began to break down (burn / peeling / even scabbed over)  Finally, someone told me to use Aquaphor (by Eucerin) which can be found at Wal-mart or any drugstore.  The red bumps is the skin drying out (I think) and the Aquphor helps keep it lubricated (and provides ALMOST instant relief from the itching).  Buy the big 14 oz jar of it - you will use most of it.  When you are at home, go bra-less and wear one of your hubby's big old t-shirts and layer the Aquaphor on your whole radiated area (don't forget your underarm area too) real thick.  I waited until too late to start using it and had to be given a week off.  During this week off is when I started using the Aquaphor my skin improved quite a bit (the skin began healing and the itching stopped).  When I started the rads again, I continued using the Aquaphor and my skin didn't get any worse.  I think if I would have started using the Aquaphor sooner, I might have been able to prevent the skin from breaking down altogether.  I think lubrication is key in preventing most skin problems during radiation.  By the way, if your skin does happen to break down and peel etc. don't freak.... it heals pretty quickly after rads stop.  It took me almost 2 weeks and the skin was blimish-free.

Hope this helps!

Pam  

Dx 5/8/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 3/20 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Apr 14, 2009 11:01PM deborye wrote:

Yes, I remember those red itchy bumps, they are called foliculitis.  The hair folicals are irritated from the radiation and by itching them they can become mildly infected.  I finished with radiation July 26, 2007.

Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize.

 Pink Ribbon   





~~~Deb~~~NEVER GIVE UP/NEVER SURRENDER**IDC 6mm & DCIS 7mm
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Apr 14, 2009 11:05PM Estepp wrote:

Yes, I got those.. TONS!! Itched like crazy.. DROVE ME NUTS!

I finished rads YESTERDAY! Wahooooooooooo for me...

It does feel like the bumps are going away.. Doc says within 2 months.. I will not even know Ihad rads.. Hang tight sister!

We are the Ta Ta Sisterhood! Her2+ BC is what I had.... and yes sisters.. I had lymph node involvement...Plus Radiation AND Implant only Reconstruction. DX 6/25/08
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Apr 14, 2009 11:09PM bonnievan wrote:

I started with red bumps that looked more like blisters before they broke open............

I found using triple POLYSPORIN worked better that any of the medication the dr gave me.

I remember when my husband got burnt at work, we used tubes of this stuff .

As soon as I used this wonder cream.........it started to heal

Check with your doctor first as i didn't ask if I should be using it.

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Apr 16, 2009 12:26AM Jeanne_D wrote:

Thank you all for replying.  I am glad to know I am not alone in this.  But, I am sorry you all have the same problem.  The itching is horrid!  I just want to scratch it sooooooooooooo bad!  I did one and it started bleeding so I am trying to refrain.  I have been using hydrocortisone and biafine.  They also gave me yesterday some aquafor, which does seem to help.  I bought some pure aloe vera which I might try.  My radiation oncologist said no, but, I still need some relief.  Where can I get the polysporin you talked about?  And, congrats estepp on being done!  I did #22 today..I have 15 more to go  :(((((((( 

Dx 1/8/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 24, 2009 07:00PM spotlight wrote:

It's now the end of  May and probably too late to help Jeanne. My skin was doing very well until after treatment 23 when the itching and redness suddenly woke me out of my sleep. I spent the weekend trying to find a solution. Finally around dinnertime on Sunday I discovered a warm bath followed by Aveeno skin relief moisturising lotion (with colloidal oatmeal.) It is not 100% but a huge improvement. Try it, you'll like it (as we used to say in the 70"s). And for the record, I declare I am not an Aveeno shareholder.

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May 26, 2009 12:13AM margo1 wrote:

How is your skin doing now?  Hope it's getting better.  My itchy red bumps started after treatment #3 and got so bad by #10  (last weds) they gave me a 5 day break.  The pain was bad and it was keeping me up at night.  Also stabbing pains under my armpit.  Used biafine & aloe at first but it was not working so I started using SSD silver sulfadine 3x plus a day which helps somewhat.  Also drinking a glass of wine before bed!  I go back tommorrow & will see if they want to start treaments again.  I still need 15 more.  They are just radiating at the skin level since I had a local reccurrence in Feb 2009 on the side where the implant is after initial mastectomy & Lymph node dissection in 2000.   

Dx 2/26/2009, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 2/19 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 26, 2009 12:36AM Jeanne_D wrote:

Hi all!  I finished my radiation treatments and the red, itchy bumps went away then.  But, I had them  until my last treatment day.  They were worse than the lil burn I got.  Good luck to all of you! 

Dx 1/8/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 1, 0/0 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 30, 2009 01:29PM tessy_w wrote:

I have 9 more treatments to go, and my incision is peeling and red.  I have just obtained some aquaphor, which helps with the dryness...but the itching is still there not so bad tho it is very tolerable......ttfn

Dx 9/29/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIIA, 8/30 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 3, 2010 04:25PM LadyZ33 wrote:

To PaminFL and everyone else, I started using Aquaphor the DAY I began radiation treatments (16 days plus 5 days of a 'boost.') Even though I used it 3x a day! once after treatment, then before dinner, and then before bedtime, the day before the last treatment, I broke out into a rash; red bumps and itch. My point here is not to chastise yourself for not starting the Aquaphor early enough. I started on Day 1 and got the rash and itch anyway after four weeks.

Someone on the internet cancer boards (can't remember which one) suggested using cornstarch over the aquaphor, so it wouldn't be so gooey. I did that for a couple of days, before the rash broke out. When I called the rad-onc office, the doctor told me DO NOT USE CORNSTARCH! for any reason; it can cause a fungus. So maybe it was the cornstarch that caused the rash and itch. But maybe not.

In any case, I'm now done with treatments; it's four days since the last one; I'm slathered with Aquaphor day and night, as a friend suggested (she's been there; done that), and we'll see how it goes.

ALSO, in response to someone on these boards, re: Aloe Vera, you MUST use 99% or 100% PURE Aloe Vera. All the others have additional ingredients, and God only knows how they affect radiated skin. I bought mine at Trader Joe's (and Wild by Nature, in my area.) The Aloe Vera is cooling, comforting, and healing. And it can't hurt you.

GOOD LUCK to all of us. It's a misery. Lady Z 

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Jul 10, 2010 08:44AM twosparrowsflew2 wrote:

Hi all, I am a lady like quite a few of us here that is in pain,pain,pain and more pain.  After 2 lumpectomies I finally had a LB Mastectomy and then had to go back to theater again the following morning for drainage of a haematoma that had developed o/night.  I was lucky tho', I didnt suffer really badly through chemo compared to some.  Now I would rather be still having chemo than radio!!  I am not only red and raw but the whole centre of my chest is bleeding and pussy.  I am in so much pain that I am back on the endone and oxycontin (just to keep me vaguely sane).  I have pure aloe vera stems by the bucketload, cortisone and solosite cream (which is used for burn patients), but relief is only fleeting.  The radio has also 'bled' through to my back so that is also UNBELIEVABLY ITCHY TOO!!!!  I also have all the red lumps everywhere especially around the mastectomy area right up my neck etc.  I feel like this will never end.  I have 5 more to go but the thought of putting these areas back under the bleeeeeeeeeping machine makes me fee sick!  My cancer is also Triple -ve so hormone treatment is not an o[tion.  Sorry about this rave and rage guys although I have made notes in relation to your experience and recommendations.  Please keep posting any other information or tips that may be helpful - I really need it.........Priscilla XXXX

Priscilla Ruth Sparrow Dx 11/30/2009, IDC, 3cm, Grade 3, 6/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2010 08:49AM twosparrowsflew2 wrote:

twosparrowsflew2

Priscilla Ruth Sparrow Dx 11/30/2009, IDC, 3cm, Grade 3, 6/13 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2010 09:25AM eileen1955 wrote:

Ice helped me with the itching. Not direct application tho. Sometimes ice water in a spray bottle, with a gentle spray.   sometimes gauze pads soaked in ice water.      

And let your doc know how badly you are feeling. I thught the techs would bring any "abnormality" to the attn fo the radiation oncologist, but that is not their job.  so I was a hero, valiantly going thru it, till I asked for a nurse to look at me.   She brought in the doctor who gave me a long break over July 4 w/e (this was several yrs ago).     That helped.      But the nurse told me later that it was the worst case of "radiodermatitis" the doc had ever seen.     I was asked permission to allow a foto for medical education. Sure, in the interest of medical advancement.     My doc allowed only one product-eucerin- b/c anything else might interfere with the radiation. I hope that list has expanded now;but don't use anything not approved by the nurse.  Esp anything with an oil base.  I wanted to use a lavender (essential oil) cream, but that was vetoed.      After treatment was done, it was very soothing.

It is a very tough road and I wish I had this venue when I went thru it.     Light-skinned, light-eyed people have a horrendous time and a bs recently told me that radiation should have been denied me b/c I have Irish fair-skin, red hair and light green eyes.                Hopefully, they have learned to be more discerning in these past few yrs.       

Dx 10/28/2003, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Jul 10, 2010 10:36AM samsue wrote:

I just finished 28 days radiation with and additional 5 days boost. Yeah I'm finished with that. The redness for me and the itching started about 10 treatments in. Yes, I'm fair skinned and the boobs really have not seen much of the light of day.... My rad dr had me use only aloe and later into the treatment gave me radia-guard to use. He said if my skin broke down to use a triple antibiotic to ward off infection. These helped the itching and burning. After the skin started to peal, similar to any 3rd degree burn, the pain seemed to lesten. Probably somewhat mental because it didn't look so bad! The pains under the arm and at the incision he said was due to the nerve endings being radiated and reacting - which seemed to lessen in time. It's hard to say but the time really went by fast! I went for my treatment at 7:20 AM then went in to work from 8-5. The best advice I was given was "and this too shall pass" Yes, some days were better than others.... I'm also going to try the aquaphor because the skin is still dry and moisturizing is essential!

We will be know forever by the tracks we leave - Dakota
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Jul 10, 2010 12:34PM chita wrote:

Jeanne,

 I have the itchy bumps too.  The other night it was so bad I took a benadryl.  It really helped!  I slept well, woke up once and was amazed I didn't itch.  It lasted a couple days. I could even wear a bra.  So try a benadryl before you go to bed.  

Frances Dx 3/17/2010, DCIS, 1cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 2, 2013 10:45PM not21anymore wrote:

CAution, do not use Aveeno with menthol..ouch!

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Apr 27, 2013 10:19PM cknew wrote:

Question? I just finished my first week of radiation, so five days completed. LaughingI started getting a rash by the 3rd to 4th day and I had been using a 1% hydrocortisone creme with aloe per doctor orders. Saw RO one the fourth day and they switched me to their 1% hydrocortisone creme and taking benadryl in the eve before bed-said it is uncommon to get a reaction that fast and must be the creme. I am slightly fair skinned with a celtic ethnicity, but not overly sensitive. Rash has gotten worse and spread with little blisters has this happen to anyone else? I welcome any advice. Thank you!

Dx 9/22/2012, DCIS, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery Lymph node removal: Right, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): DIEP flap
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Apr 27, 2013 11:32PM RMlulu wrote:

Hi cknew -
Had rash small little pimples early on....I tried on other breast first to check skin reaction
Emu oil helped took itch away has helped I'm 32/33
Aquaphor may help too but like Vaseline so sticky
Might sleep boob free so nothing touches area...free boobing helps
Best Wishes
Cindy

Dx 12/18/2012, IDC, <1cm, Stage IB, Grade 2, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 1/23/2013 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 3/14/2013 Hormonal Therapy 6/1/2013 Aromasin (exemestane)
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Sep 10, 2013 07:40PM J_J_ wrote:

I am 25 /30 ( 5 boosts remain)  Skin now breaking down in areas...was always proactive and used polysporin-cream version only, and was started with Lubriderm lotion up to around week 2

I started red patches, spots and even open sores before the second week as well, which they said was early...and so was then suggested Glaxal Base cream which was fabulous, although I likened its aweful smell to a hardware store...and my husband laughed as he said I'd nailed the scent exactly!!! I call it "eau de hardware"...and a lifesaver. 
It doesn't heal, or help with pigment changes, but it surely soothes &  moisturizes. Use lots and wear a cotton tee you don't care about.
Appeal to makers: please wellskin products, do not put up the price, make it more reasonable, as some ladies don't go for the more expensive suggestion. I bought a huge container at week 2 and now have a spare jug for the weeks ahead.
I do have sensitive fair skin & some major allergies, and it worked up to now for me, but may not work for everyone. Ask for a little sample pack if they have one... 

J_J_

I want to be treated like a warm body, not a bag of bones...
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Sep 10, 2013 07:55PM J_J_ wrote:

I'll also add that the salt from my own perspiration made me very itchy....and of course we had a heat wave throughout most of my treatment...not to mention they took away my evening promrose oil so I was a hot mess all around...I found vinegar on a soft paper towel or cotton cloth was most soothing (the acetic acid) ...again, this may not work for everyone, but it was perfect for me. Am not using it for larger breakdown areas at this final stage though....Mepital pads are wonderful if you can get some. Sticky but non glue, and a spongy dry surface.  Doesn't always stay put on armpit or sweaty areas, though *SIGH* which is almost everywhere on me, but a lose bra can help hold in place!  J_J_

I want to be treated like a warm body, not a bag of bones...
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Dec 2, 2013 12:54AM wyo wrote:

wow glad to see the "bump" think is quite common- I only had 16 treatments and the bumps came 12/16 At first no itching and I was using some lotion but not a lot and aquaphor out of the shower- the worst is right where my tattoo on the breastbone is and goes up to almost my clavicle nothing below the nipple at all. I do sweat at night so think that makes it worse. Rads is done now and the itching has been progressively worse since last day of treatment- if I don't see improvement I will check in with the office since I have no appts until January- thanks for all the remedies and experience

Dx 9/2013, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/30/2013 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/6/2013 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/6/2013 Femara (letrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Dx
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Dec 20, 2013 10:00PM ltramonti wrote:

I too just started therapy and my rash came out on 2nd day of treatment

Mine is on both of my legs itches burns like crazy tried benedryl & acuphor they both didnt work & cream burned terribly 

Any other suggestions

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Dec 20, 2013 10:32PM wyo wrote:

I don't know what really works- I am still fighting the rash and radiation has been over for 3 weeks.  It is a bit better and I am using prescription strength cortisone creme. My RO prescribed the cortisone- I tried benadryl but it really didn't do much.   Mine is in the field of radiation so cleavage area and top of left breast extending into armpit- I think I am noticing it less but afraid to say that.  

Dx 9/2013, IDC, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 9/30/2013 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/6/2013 Whole-breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/6/2013 Femara (letrozole), Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Dx
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Dec 21, 2013 01:32AM Shalimar630 wrote:

Itramonti, If I am understanding you correctly, your rash isn't in the radiation area. That would make me think more of a hives reaction to something. ?

Dx 5/31/2013, LCIS, 1cm, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR- Dx 5/31/2013, DCIS, 1cm, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR- Dx 5/31/2013, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/7 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Feb 23, 2014 11:05AM Furfriend2 wrote:

WYO,

Hi there,  Did the post rads skin issues get better quickly?

Fur

Best to all, Furfriend Dx 7/2013, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 3/6 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 10/6/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy Breast, Lymph nodes
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Nov 3, 2015 12:19PM cremefraiche57 wrote:

I used the hydrocortisone also - and got the same rash. I took a half dozen washcloths and wet them and put them in individual sandwich bags and froze them. I applied one for 20 minutes immediately after the treatment and it helped tremendously - I hope this helps others.

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Nov 3, 2015 01:08PM Moderators wrote:

Dear cremefraiche57, Welcome to the community and thanks for sharing your tip with the members. We hope that you will stay connected here and let us know how we can help you. The MOds

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Jun 25, 2017 12:44PM Auntmad wrote:

Yes. Lots of tiny red bumps, some itching peripherally, tiny broken capillaries. Am using the R1 and R2 creams. We will be okay. Holding your hand through the air. Glad to have company, sorry for the reasons

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Jun 25, 2017 12:45PM Auntmad wrote:

washcloth idea sounds great. Thank

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