Treatments for Skin Complications from Chemotherapy

A variety of skin and nail treatments can be used to manage side effects from chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Northwestern Medicine dermatologists and oncologists treat and reduce skin complications from chemotherapy by advising patients on how to manage increased sensitivity, redness, itching and brittle nails at home.

Recommended strategies include:

  • Avoid sun exposure, especially during peak hours
  • Use sunscreen, including a lip balm with a high SPF, every day
  • Wear a hat when outdoors
  • Keep your face clean and dry
  • Avoid long, hot baths
  • Use a mild soap or shower gel
  • Pat skin dry – do not rub
  • Apply moisturizer when skin is still damp
  • Use cornstarch as a dusting powder
  • Avoid fragrances and lotions containing alcohol
  • Keep nails short and clean
  • Wear gloves when gardening or doing housework
  • Avoid nail polishes and nail-strengthening products

If skin complications persist despite using these strategies, talk to your physician about prescription medications that can bring you relief.

Skin, nail and hair symptoms generally clear up after cancer treatment has ended.


  • Medications