Acute radiation dermatitis

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Radiation dermatitis is a skin condition that arises after exposure to radiation therapy. When it comes to the acute form, it occurs right after exposure to radiation, typically within a brief period with signs that are immediate where the skin is damaged.

In most cases, there is an acute skin reaction after a high-dose or intense exposure to radiation. The condition is defined as skin redness with pain that can last for a few weeks.

Possible risk factors

The usual risk factors for acute radiation dermatitis might include:

  • Radiation therapy for acne
  • Fungal infection of the scalp among children
  • Psoriasis treatment
  • Radiation therapy for an underlying malignancy
  • Accidental exposure in the workplace
  • Exposure to radiation while under angiography or angioplasty

What are the indications?

Skin redness and pain in the affected site. The redness that lasts for 3-5 days but the pain can last for up to 3 weeks.

The signs of acute radiation dermatitis might manifest within hours up to a few days after exposure to radiation which includes:

  • Skin redness and pain in the affected site. The redness that lasts for 3-5 days but the pain can last for up to 3 weeks.
  • Hair loss
  • Formation of blisters that might ulcerate and even bleed
  • Skin rashes are localized to a specific site, usually at the site of exposure

Remember that any part of the body that has been exposed to radiation can be affected.

A physical examination is performed to check for any signs. The doctor will also assess the medical history of the individual.

Management of acute radiation dermatitis

  • Acute radiation dermatitis typically settles without requiring treatment. Take note that the skin recuperates and returns to normal over time.
  • It is vital to take a break from radiation therapy. The doctor might decide not to expose the individual to radiation until the skin or any scars have fully healed.
  • If treatment is necessary, there is a need for topical steroids.

Some self-care measures that can be done at home include:

  • Avoid scratching the affected areas.
  • Apply a cool, damp compress on the affected areas
  • A cool bath can provide a soothing effect on the skin
  • Only use mild soaps, perfumes and detergents
  • If possible, wear smooth, cotton-based clothing

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