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What are the symptoms of radiation burns?

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Quick Answer

Hair loss, dry or wet skin peeling, edema, ulcers and decreased sweating are some of the symptoms of radiation burns, according to Lindi Skin. People with radiation burns may also experience bleeding and death of skin cells.

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Many patients who undergo radiation therapy suffer radiation burns because radiation kills both cancer cells and healthy cells, explains Lindi Skin. The treatment often causes redness, irritation and skin peeling in the treated area. Skin damage may occur within one or two weeks of radiation therapy. It usually resolves once the radiation treatment is completed.

People typically suffer varying degrees of symptoms based on the overall radiation dose, the form of radiation involved, the size of the treated region and fractionation, states Lindi Skin. Doctors sometimes stop radiation therapy when a patient has severe burns and then resume treatment once the patient’s skin heals.

Individuals with radiation burns should keep their skin properly hydrated and lubricated with fragrance-free products to minimize skin itching or cracking, recommends Lindi Skin. Washing with lukewarm water, taking a brief shower and patting the skin dry should is also beneficial. Bandages, ice packs and heating pads must be avoided. Lindi Skin also suggests avoiding skin care products prior to a radiation therapy session, using nonadhesive dressings and avoiding sun exposure.

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