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Part III: Cancer and Skin Changes—Appearance Alterations

By: Patricia Ringos Beach and Katie Morgan-Lousky
Posted: April 27, 2012, from the May 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Ingrown nails, nail shedding and dark lines through the nails may occur during cancer treatment.

Ingrown nails, nail shedding and dark lines through the nails may occur during cancer treatment.

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2. Preparation and approach. When a client comes to a spa, skin care professionals must direct their attention first to basic grooming. The value of this skill and expertise brought to the situation at hand cannot be overstated. Eileen was approached by the spa team with support and respect. She had been through a lot and much in her life had changed. It was important that she feel safe. Even just going to a spa was new for her; she had never even had polish on her toenails before.

The first step was to address the acne without compromising the integrity of the skin. Specifically, no extractions would be performed. Chemotherapy-induced acne is different than hormonal or puberty-induced-acne. Because the skin is still compromised, care and treatment must be gentle. Camouflage rather than correction is the goal. Eileen’s acne treatment would be comprehensive but less aggressive because of the compromised skin.

3. Treatment. If this type of skin is treated too aggressively or harshly, there is the risk of scarring. Bleaching and extractions cannot be used, so Eileen’s protocol included the following.

  • Cleanse skin.
  • Steam pores open.
  • Exfoliate with mild exfoliant and facial brushes using warm towels to draw out active acne.
  • Massage with a mask to promote and return a natural balance to the skin.
  • Use a low dose of high frequency to close down and seal pores.
  • Apply a second mask to infuse moisture into the skin and support its health.
  • Finish with a serum and a moisturizer.

Evaluation and follow-up. According to Katie Morgan-Lousky, Ahava owner and esthetician, “Besides teaching her how to draw in her eyebrows, we gave Eileen a way of coping. We could not correct the discoloration and acne, but we could make her look and feel better.”

From Shelley: “Everything was the cancer. Cancer became her identity. That is, until the day when mom received her ‘cherished’ spa day. From the moment she arrived at Ahava Spa and Wellness Center, she was no longer her cancer. She was treated as the incredible queen that she was. The staff talked to her about everything but her cancer. She glowed for the first time in two years. She was so peaceful and beautiful when she arrived home.”

Cancer changes everything