Industry News

Skin Solutions for Cancer Patients

September 28, 2012 | 6:42 AM

Cancer can rob women of so much—their strength, their confidence, their beauty. One element of care that’s often overlooked in cancer patients is their skin. Chemical and radiation treatments that attack the disease can also destroy patients’ healthy elasticity and skin tone. 

One Columbus, Ohio-based doctor and ovarian cancer survivor wants women (and men) to know that they don't have to live with all the side effects from cancer treatment that affect their appearance. As a skin care professional, you might consider creating a menu designed specifically for cancer patients, whose regime changes dramatically during such a difficult time. Not only could such tips help prevent premature aging of the skin, but more importantly, it could help an underserved client realize that he or she deserves special care.

Dr. Carol Clinton, founder of Timeless Skin Solutions ( was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the same time she was opening her very own medical-based skin care practice. She was concerned about the reaction her patients might have to her ever-changing appearance—hair loss, scaly skin, etc.  But instead of hiding behind masks and wearing wigs, Dr. Clinton embraced the changes and took control.  She proudly showcased her cancer battle, and in return, she discovered things patients can do to feel beautiful. Now cancer-free, Clinton share tips on how to approach and care for skin care clients who are undergoing treatment for cancer:

*Recommend a cleanser that is gentle for the skin. Many treatments during illness can cause skin to become very sensitive, break out easily or develop rashes. Avoid performing harsher glycolic treatments on cancer patients. Also, strongly suggest that they wear a moisturizer with sunscreen.

*Encourage patients to schedule a facial every month. Perhaps you can partner with your local branch of the American Cancer Society to create a special monthly promotion designed to pamper those suffering from cancer. Explain to such patients that their skin will not turn over in its normal 28-day process, which will result in a sallow and tired look.

*Don’t neglect their scalp. When a cancer patient comes to you for a basic facial, suggest a scalp treatment, as well. This is especially important for men and women who have lost their hair in chemotherapy sessions and are covering their scalp with a wig most of the day. Microdermabrasion for the face and scalp would be an effective offering.

*Finally, if they wear makeup, be sure it's mineral based. Invest in a good mineral-based cosmetic line. Zinc and copper are particularly soothing to the skin. Make the client feel beautiful and confident. Her skin tone has likely changed, so when she visits your spa, offer her a complimentary makeup application and lesson.

*Laser treatments, Botox and facial fillers are not out of the picture during treatment.Have clients first check with their physician to be sure that their particular medical state doesn’t prevent them from smoothing a few lines here and there. Giving them skin that looks healthy and vibrant will help them face some of the tougher days with a better outlook.



Molly Noonan

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