Radiation Burns

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Radiation Burns

by Blueeye73 on Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:00 AM

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I am looking for information on radiation burns. My Mom finished 4 weeks of radiation to her neck and chest for SCLC on Tuesday. Now she has raw burns on her neck wherever something irritated her skin. We are cleaning it with saline and applying Silvadene cream but what else?? The raw areas seem to be getting bigger and she is miserable. They weep and then the skin sloughs off on her clothes. We've tried to keep everything off of the spots, but it's hard at night. She doesn't even want to leave her house. I appreciate any ideas from those who know what I'm talking about first hand...the nurses say we're doing everything we can.

RE: Radiation Burns

by Commonsense2265 on Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:00 AM

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 Nor only is she suffering burns she is suffering from radiation sickness.  If the docs say they are doing all they can then the only thing I have to add is alternative therapy.  Try some coats aloe on the burn area and drinking 4 oz per day in some water.  Put in a bottle of water and sip on it.

This will help heal the burns as well as rid the body of unwanted radiation.  If her treatments are finished, then radiation often tends to build up in the body making the burns worse.  There is natural and also medical supplement you can get without a prescription

Iodoral  just google it and you will find it.  Buy a bottle and try it cannot hurt.  It is potassium iodide. If we suffered a nucelar attack that is the substance that would be given to everyone for radiation poisoining.

This should help heal the burns quicker...commonsense2265 

On 3/10/2007 Blueeye73 wrote:

I am looking for information on radiation burns. My Mom finished 4 weeks of radiation to her neck and chest for SCLC on Tuesday. Now she has raw burns on her neck wherever something irritated her skin. We are cleaning it with saline and applying Silvadene cream but what else?? The raw areas seem to be getting bigger and she is miserable. They weep and then the skin sloughs off on her clothes. We've tried to keep everything off of the spots, but it's hard at night. She doesn't even want to leave her house. I appreciate any ideas from those who know what I'm talking about first hand...the nurses say we're doing everything we can.

 

RE: Radiation Burns

by Bellagran on Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:00 AM

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My husband was also treated for sclc two years ago.  He had a very bad burn on his chest next to his collar bone that almost went through the skin.  On one of his visits to ICU we asked the doctor on call to recommend something as the ointment he was given wasn't helping.  He had the hospital give us a tube of Biafin.  It was wonderful.  It is for radiation burns and was almost immediately effective.  It is very hydrating and eased his burns so quickly it was amazing.   Since then we gave what we had left to a family friend for her radiation burns and she said it helped her tremendously also.  All my best to your mom and to you for caring for and about her.  I hope this is helpful to your mom.

RE: Radiation Burns

by Sewwonderfulwoman on Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:00 AM

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My skin got that bad during radiation treatment for breast cancer.  In addition to Silvadene the nurses told me to use Domoboro soaks.  You get Domoboro over the counter at a pharmacy. Mix it up according to directions and keep it in a jar in the refrigerator.  Use several layers(I used two) of sterile gauze pads, as many as are needed to cover the area that's burned.  Soak the pads in the domoboro solution and put on soaking wet (you'll need a towel under you)--leave on for 10-15 minutes and do it 4-5 times/day.  The coldness will feel great on burned skin (although at first it stings) and it really does help heal the weeping open sores pretty quickly.  Skin continues to burn/react after the end of radiation for about 2 weeks, I was told.  I finished radiation 12/8 and the last of the open areas finally healed around 12/30 (I was sick of doing soaks by then so was only doing it once/day).  Hope this helps!

RE: Radiation Burns

by Chris54 on Fri May 04, 2007 12:00 AM

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On 3/10/2007 Blueeye73 wrote:

I am looking for information on radiation burns. My Mom finished 4 weeks of radiation to her neck and chest for SCLC on Tuesday. Now she has raw burns on her neck wherever something irritated her skin. We are cleaning it with saline and applying Silvadene cream but what else?? The raw areas seem to be getting bigger and she is miserable. They weep and then the skin sloughs off on her clothes. We've tried to keep everything off of the spots, but it's hard at night. She doesn't even want to leave her house. I appreciate any ideas from those who know what I'm talking about first hand...the nurses say we're doing everything we can.

I had 25 sessions of radiation last year and had radiation burns.  My skin turned black and it was so painful .  I was also given silvadene creme, it didn't help.  I applied pure EMU oil and it was immediate relief.  You can order it on line..just type in EMU oil at google and you can find it...Good luck...

RE: Radiation Burns

by platinum on Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:00 AM

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I am just finishing 6 weeks of radiation and have serious burns on my breast. Half of it is weepy, which is a very nice way of saying a very ugly thing. Keep the nasty blisters dry,and hard, not softened with a lot of water. It makes a huge difference to comfort. Do not touch them with anything but the ointment. I wear a chemise that is low enough to barely touch it, and pin a bit of material around the seam for comfort and for the weepiness. When I shower, I make it very brief because it hurts like crazy, and I break the water with my hands. Then I stand in front of a fan to airdry the blisters. I wear a big shirt with material pinned into it when I go to radiation, then come home and do not go out again. Keep your mom on 2 extra strength Tylenol (my nurses and docs told me this) at all times. It really help with pain and inflammation. Saline-that is salt. That would sting. I comfort myself with the fact that it really is not a burn, like a sunburn, but a kind of dermatitus that will go away and leave no lasting damage. And please tell your mom not to feel that there are a million things wrong with her. Mine will pass and so will hers.

RE: Radiation Burns

by platinum on Fri Jun 13, 2008 12:00 AM

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I forgot to add this. If the wounds do not clear up, ask the Dr if she can be prescribed treatment in a hyperbaric chamber. My husband had a necroting wound that was an inch deep-the pure oxygen did miracles. The first day, the swelling went down by an inch. If my blisters hang on, I am going to ask the same.

RE: Radiation Burns

by fl_survivor on Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:00 AM

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I was just released from 13 days in the hospital for 2nd and 3rd degree radiation burns on my chest and under arm. They used saline solution, Siladene and a special gauge that has vasoline embeded in it. It is very soothing and helps hold the Silvadene on. When removed it gently removes the dead skin --if there is any present. These gauge can only be obtained by a doctors prescription. Good Luck to your mom!!

RE: Radiation Burns

by sxcavanaugh on Sun Nov 01, 2009 09:40 PM

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Hello- I am very sorry for your pain and suffering. I am going to offer some information, but it is important to me that you understand I am not arguing about what you have been through or trying to minimize it- just helping you with the terminology. 

Radiation wounds are not really burns, and they are not rated by degree. Medical professional who are trained in radiation usage will generally not use degrees to rate the wounds. Instead, they will use "grades" from the internationally accepted CTC (Common Toxicity Criteria) that is used by all major cancer research organizations (that is why it is call "common"). The reason you can't use degrees is that burns start at the top, and spread downward, and the "degree" of the burn has to do with how far through the skin thickness it caused damage. That isn't at all what happens with radiation- therefore the degree system isn't very useful. 

With regard to some of the advice in this thread- all I can say it that it is well intended, but perhaps not exactly accurate. I do not, in any way, discourage patients from forming communities and sharing information- but sadly that information is sometimes not accurate. Although we can't stop people from passing around bad information, we (physicians) can minimize that aspect of cancer care by slowly and patiently explaining what we are doing to your body and why- and of course, what you should expect as side effects. As a Radiation Oncologist, my consults generally go well over an hour, with an additional 15 minutes once a week during therapy, and 20 minutes at each follow up. So, for even the most routine case (which are never routine to the patient) I will spend several hours over the course of three months sharing information, explaining, listening, and responding to concerns. I am not a saint- I am paid to do that. The problem is not that physicians are lazy or greedy (some are) but instead perhaps the problem is that physicians often do not understand that their job is more than the performing of the service- their job is also the teaching, comforting, and true healing of the patient. I do not think that the accurate and safe delivery of radiation is good enough- it is only a small part of the job, and if you aren't going to do the whole job, send the patient to someone who will. I don't think I apply radiation with any more skill than other doctors, but perhaps I spend a little more time helping my patients understand and prepare for what I am recommending.

With that in mind, please allow me to share a little bit of general information about radiation wounds- although I cannot address your case specifically, having never examined you. There is zero build up of radiation in a patient from external beam radiation therapy (although there is from free isotope therapy or seed implantation- but those are very different). None. It does not happen. So you don't need to clear any residual radiation out, because there isn't any. I am not out to insult anyone, but to suggest that there is residual radiation following external beam radiotherapy is just plain incorrect.

Radiation wounds are not "damaged" skin, per se, as much as they are "missing" skin- let me explain- radiation causes skin to fail to reproduce properly, and thus as you "use up" your normal skin, like we all do all day, there are no new layers of skin coming up from the bottom. So eventually the area can ulcerate. This might look like a thermal burn, but it has very little in common with a thermal burn, and the treatments for thermal burns will not help much.

Let me be clear- many skin reactions don't need, nor will they find benefit from a 100 dollars worth of potions and lotions from the herbal medicine shop. You expect me to say that because I'm a doctor. Perhaps some will stop listening to me now because I don't think that a plant from the middle of the jungle ground up and slathered on your skin will fix the problem (why would it?). But, allow me to also say- most skin reactions don't need, nor will they benefit from 100 dollars worth of laboratory chemicals stuffed into a brand name prescription from the pharmacy. Neither approach will help heal the skin very much, and neither will prevent the damage in the first place. Do I believe in natural cures? You bet. Your body, in its natural amazing way, can regenerate skin without lotions or potions or pills most of the time. Very few radiation reactions need serious supportive care, most (not all) will just get better. Of course, there are some severe wounds that will require medical attention, but without an understanding of what is wrong, no one, be they MD, DO, ND or Shaman, can be expected to properly assist you. If your medical professional is using terms like "second degree" to describe a radiation wound then there is a good chance (although I can't say for sure) that they are not trained in any of the more than 100 years of science and knowledge that can help you in this situation.

Now, keep in mind, I said herbal potions and laboratory chemicals won't heal the wound much faster- I didn't say they wouldn't sooth the area and ease your suffering while your body repaired the damage. That they are very good at. For a grade I skin reaction, a good non-alcohol containing aloe is about as good as anything that costs a hundred times of much, in my opinion. I would rather a patient use aloe, but there are also some lidocaine containing topical medications that are helpful if they insist. Colloidal silver (a very natural medication for the record, despite being sold at the pharmacy) can inhibit the growth of bacteria, although it may not cure an active infection. Infection in general is actually not that common in radiation wounds- but it can happen and should be treated when it does. 

Rarely, radiation wounds do need more assertive supportive care. I'm truly very sorry that you had to experience such a situation. Keep in mind, you don't have to clear or remove dead skin from a radiation wound like you might from a thermal burn- at least not aggressively. The problem is missing skin, not damaged skin, or at least that is the more logical way to model the situation. Missing skin can't be healed with an herb, or a medication, and missing skin sure as heck can't be scrubbed at until it isn't missing anymore. Missing skin, for the most part, needs to wait until the body grows more skin. That can take 2-4 weeks for very mild reactions, to several months for serious radiation injuries. Make sure your medical professional has training and certification in these issues, keep in close contact with them, and ask them in no uncertain terms for a timeline that you can use in your healing expectations. Then, if your body does not respond on that timeline- ask them why, ask them if something is wrong, ask and then ask, and then ask some more, until your doctor explains what is going on with your body to your satisfaction. You have that right, and you also have that responsibility. Very few physicians, and far fewer patients, are qualified to give advice on radiation wounds. Find support and comfort on the internet- but find advice on the cause and cure for radiation damage to human tissues by consulting a board certified Radiation Oncologist- one that cares about your case, and takes the time to explain things to you.

God bless you and good luck. 

RE: Radiation Burns

by almostfinished on Mon Jul 05, 2010 02:34 PM

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I am in my fourth week of radiation and have burns that have not broken the skin but sting and itch. My Dr. recommends Miaderm radiation relief that I buy over the counter at a local pharmacy. It is expensive $28.00  but helps to heal the skin. I also use the aloe plant and just rub the juice from the plant over the burned area. Just use scissors and cut apiece off, cut off each side and pull it apart and rub on  the area. It really soothes the burn and my oncologist approved of that also. I am not sure which helps the most so I alternate these every 3-4 hrs. I only wash with lukewarm water and dove soap once a day. I think too much cleaning only dries the skin more. You can go to Miaderm.com to find the creme.

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