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What are the side effects of chemotherapy drugs on skin?

Cheryl Taylor
Oncology Nursing
Some chemotherapy drugs can cause rashes on the skin. Please notify your doctor if this occurs.
Dr. Ellen Marmur, MD
Dermatology
Drug eruptions are often characteristic of certain medications. For example, targeted chemotherapy drugs (that zone in on one area of the body) -- such as Taxol, for breast cancer -- can cause fingernails and cuticles to become swollen and inflamed (a nail disease called paronychia). Taxol can also trigger an acne-like rash on the face, which should not be treated as acne. It actually needs to be cared for with moisturizer. Side effects like these occur because a targeted therapy uses chemicals that react with cancer cells, but can have a cross reaction with receptors on other cells too (like those on the skin). Regular chemotherapy -- which essentially uses toxic chemicals to kill cancer cells -- can also affect normal, healthy cells and cause a host of hypersensitivity reactions, such as hair loss, severe itching, swelling, dry skin and an increased bruising. It's sensible to consult the oncologist before taking anything like an antihistamine for itching or vitamin K for bruising, since even over-the-counter medications and supplements can react negatively with other medications being taken.
Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

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Simple Skin Beauty: Every Woman's Guide to a Lifetime of Healthy, Gorgeous Skin

What if a leading dermatologist just happened to be your best friend and you could ask her anything? DR. ELLEN MARMUR, a world-renowned New York City dermatologist, answers all your questions with...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.