Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home
- Caring for the Patient With Cancer at Home: A Guide for Patients and Families
- Anxiety, fear, and emotional distress
- Appetite, poor
- Bleeding or low platelet count
- Blood counts, changes in
- Blood in stool
- Blood in urine
- Fluids (lack of) and dehydration
- Grooming and appearance
- Hair loss
- Infection, increased risk
- Leg cramps
- Mouth, bleeding in
- Mouth dryness
- Mouth sores
- Nausea and vomiting
- Scars and wounds
- Shortness of breath
- Skin color changes
- Skin dryness
- Skin (pressure) sores
- Sleep problems
- Stomas (or ostomies)
- Swallowing problems
- Treatment at home
- Tubes and IV lines
- Weight changes
- When death is approaching
- To learn more
Dry skin can be rough, flaky, red, and sometimes painful. It’s often caused by not having enough oil and water in the layers of the skin. Common causes of dry skin include dehydration, heat, cold, poor nutrition, and side effects of treatment.
What to look for
- Red, rough, flaky skin (although dry skin can look normal)
- Cracks in the skin
- Slight bleeding between the lines of skin covering joints, such as knuckles or elbows
What the patient can do
- Add mineral or baby oil to warm bath water, or put it on after showering while skin is still damp. (This can make you and the floor slippery, so hold onto something when you’re moving around barefoot.)
- Wash with cool or warm water, not hot water.
- Avoid scrubbing the skin during showers or baths. Gently pat skin dry after bathing.
- Put on moisturizing, alcohol-free creams twice a day, especially after baths.
- Avoid colognes, after-shaves, and after-bath splashes that contain alcohol.
- Use an electric razor.
- Drink 2 to 3 quarts of liquid a day, if you’ve been told it’s OK to do this.
- Protect your skin from cold and wind. Avoid hot water and heat, especially dry heat.
What caregivers can do
- Put lotions or oils on hard-to-reach places.
- Offer extra fluids.
Call the cancer team if the patient:
- Develops very rough, red, or painful skin
- Has signs of infection, such as pus or tenderness near broken skin
Last Medical Review: 06/08/2015
Last Revised: 06/08/2015