Radiation Burns and How Can You Treat Them

We are constantly being exposed to radiation, and they may harm our skin to some level, but the way the radiation in the radiation therapy affects us can cause you radiation burns as well. Radiation therapy is common with people who have cancer. These radiations are given to the patients in different doses to destroy the tumor inside the patient’s body. While it is helping with one problem, it may cause some serious side effects to your body, and that is the radiation burns. Radiation burns are also known as radiation dermatitis. This may not happen after the first dose of your radiation therapy, but when patients are given doses of radiation and are exposed multiple times, this may start to affect their skin. Similar burns were seen in people who experienced Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Seeing the pictures of them, you will realize how severe these radiation burns can be.

Why do radiation burns happen?

Radiation burns can happen as easily as sunburn happens. In the sunburns, these are the UV rays that are affecting your body, and in the case of radiation therapy, these are x-ray and other such types of rays. Radiation dermatitis is so common that almost 85 percent of the patients that go through radiotherapy will experience such a side effect. As you know that this won’t happen at the first session of your radiotherapy, but it usually happens after the two continuous weeks of radiation therapy and can last for a few years even after the therapy. When the traditions are passing through your skin, they will produce the free radicals in your skin, and that will cause you skin damage by following ways

  • Your skin tissues will get damaged
  • The DNA of cells in your skin will get damaged.
  • The skin will get inflamed at the site of radiation.

When this happens at the start of treatment, the skin won’t be able to heal by the time your next dose arrives. This way, the skin will either break or cause rashes in that area, creating a very uncomfortable situation for you.

Symptoms of radiation burns

Symptoms of radiation dermatitis or radiation burns are as follows

  • That area of your skin will become moister.
  • Redness is very common.
  • Itchiness
  • The skin will start to peel off or will become flaky at first.
  • Your skin will start to feel sore at that point.
  • Pigmentation will also change in that rea of your skin.
  • Blistering is a common and very uncomfortable side effect of radiation burns.
  • Ulcers may start to form in that area.

These are some of the symptoms, but just like any other burn, this bun will also develop gradually. The skin in that area, first of all, will start to become red, and that would lead to peeling and swelling in that area, finally reaching the death of skin cells in that area.


There are five different kinds of treatment for radiation burns.

  • Corticosteroid creams are the ones that can help heal the skin in that area.
  • Antibiotics can help prevent the further risk of infection and for your skin from deteriorating even more.
  • Zinc will increase the immune function and will help the skin to heal from burns, cuts, and even ulcers.
  • Amifostine is a medication that helps prevent these free radical formations, and this way will prevent radiation burns in patients through radiation therapy. In patients that were given the Amifostine injectable form, the risk of radiation burn was reduced to 77 percent.
  • Silver leaf nylon dressing will be a great help since silver itself help heal the burns. This dressing will stay on and will heal your skin burn slowly. It is one of the fastest ways to get rid of these radiation burns.

These ways are how to heal your skin.

Preventing radiation burns

Since you can prevent the radiotherapy from happening, there are a few things that you can do to prevent these radiation burns from forming on your skin. Following are some of those preventions

  • Avoid using scented soap in your daily use.
  • Stop picking at your skin or scratching it.
  • Don’t use deodorant or perfume on your skin.
  • Swimming in the pools that contain chlorine water.
  • Sunbathing

All these things will make your skin irritated, and hence it will be more prone to radiation burns or radiation dermatitis. These burns should not scare you from radiotherapy because this therapy is used in most cancers like breast cancer. If you are a woman or man with such cancer, you should focus on getting it removed, and these burns can be dealt with, with the help of your doctor.

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