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Pain from radiation burns - any recommendations?

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2012

First, I am so thankful for this site. I have been lurking here since my mother's diagnosis in December. Mom has made it through her chemo - radiation - chemo cycle and now has severe pain from the radiation burns. She had her last rad. treatment a week ago tomorrow. She has open areas from the blisters and swelling.

My question: what worked/is working for your radiation burns?


RoseC's picture
Posts: 557
Joined: Jun 2011

The radiation burns are really, really uncomfortable. I found sitz baths using about a teaspoon of Aveeno Soothing Bath Treatment mixed in helped at least for a little bit. Really loose clothing, or commando, is helpful. Also, the hospital gave me Silvadene to put on the burns. Aquaphour also helps.

As bad as the burns are right now, they should heal rather quickly. Your mom's at the worst point right about now. Healing should start any day.

Posts: 453
Joined: Mar 2011

I found Aquaphor ointment helped me the most. I did not have any blistering. You can get this over the counter at Target, Walmart, Kroger, etc.

Posts: 118
Joined: Jan 2012

Remember everyones burns and tolerance to pain is different. My burns were extreme as a great deal of the radiation was very shallow. I also have extrememly pale skin which seems to burn easier and heal slower. Two weeks after the end of treatment I was actually hospitalized and tried every topical product out there and none of it seemed to help. Just keep using the Silvedene cream in a lite coat to help avoid infection. I also wore bandages called Mepilex that I had to buy on my own as my insurance HMO didn't provide or use it. Luckily my radiation oncologist educated me. It helped with the skin to skin irritation and didn't stick to the wounds. Don't be alarmed if it takes your mom longer than what you may hear on this board as each of us are different. I never thought a year later I would be where I am now. I know the pain you are feeling for her. Hugs to you

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2012

It has been a frustrating night as it has taken several hours to get the new pain meds that mom's docter prescribed. However, she is now feeling a little better and both of us are confident that she will begin to feel much better soon. I really appreciate the feedback and it is nice to hear the differences that makes each of us unique. Unlike ohters who have posted, mom could not stand the aquaphor(sp?) even when the irritation was mild. I have asked for silvedene and our oncologist is going to talk with the radiologist tomorrow and let us know what else to try.

I hate that each of you have had to endure this but I am also thankful that you have been brave enough to reach out to others.

Posts: 1151
Joined: Oct 2011

Hi. I am also fair complected and my skin burned horribly. I was hospitalized for other reasons but one of the nurses recommended a spray called Dermoplast...it can be bought OTC at many places and is usually prescribed to sooth after childbirth and also help prevent infection. Since it is a spray it was so easy to apply and worked great for me. Give it a try, hope this helps.

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2012

I have heard of Dermoplast and will check it out - thanks!

danker's picture
Posts: 1020
Joined: Apr 2012

You might also try Radiagel over the counter. Wallmart has it.

marilynndrake's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Dec 2016

did you ever try dermoplast?

Posts: 1151
Joined: Oct 2011

As said everyone is different. My burns were also extreme and I could not tolerate most creams. What did help a bit was a spray called Dermoplast, it is usually recommended to ease pain in that area after chilbirth and is sold OTC. I got it at Target. Being a spray was easier for me than applying an ointment, and it also helps prevent infection. Good luck to you both as you move forward in healing.

Posts: 27
Joined: Dec 2011

I finished radiation 8 days ago. My burns got worse until about 6 days post treatment, and now I can start to see some healing. I was shocked at how widespread the burns went down my inner thighs.

Skin Care during radiation treatment: morning shower, gentle wash of the wounds, blow dry skin and did not apply any cremes until after radiation session. Used Aquaphor in the early weeks, switched to Silvadene in week 5.

Current skin care routine:
I soak 3x/day in the tub or sitz-bath using Domeboro Astringent Solution Powder Packets.
I rinse off with tepid soapy water and use a clean wash cloth to gently remove dead skin.
I dry off with hair dryer set on cool.

My husband puts on gloves and a headlamp. I lay on a Chux pad, and hold a hand mirroir so I can try to see what he's doing. He uses a Q-tip moistened with a bit of triple antibiotic creme to clean up any oozing areas and remaining dead skin. It hurts a bit but I know the removal of the old skin is important for healing properly. I also prevented some skin from fusing between the labia and vaginal opening. I thought I was having a vaginal yeast infection but the wound care specialist confirmed it was not infected, but was discharge related to the healing burns.

After cleaning my skin, my husband liberally applies Silvadene to the wounds to create an effective barrier against infection. This feels so good and soothing.

Pain Meds: I started using Hydrocodone in week 5 but upgraded to oxycodone in week 6 and then switched to time release oxycontin last week so I wouldn't have to wake up every 4 hours. Once my wounds heal up, I plan to switch to oxycodone during the day as needed and use oxycontin time release at night.

At home, I don't wear any bottoms and will lay on a Chux pad inside a separate twin sheet folded in half. That way, we don't have to strip the King sheets off every day or two. The chux keep the greasy silvadene off the sheets.

If I go out, I wear a men's large boxers under a skirt to maximize air circulation (and because it is too painful to have anything touching my wounds.

Hang in there!

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2012

My mom was reluctant to get stronger pain meds but she is now taking oxycontin and oxycodone and is much better today. We also started with the Domeboros soaks today. She said that she felt like she really turned the corner and is healing. The swelling has decreased but she is still having a lot of drainage. She is wondering how long that usually lasts????

Thanks again!

Posts: 453
Joined: Mar 2011

If you are talking about mucous/fecal discharge, mine lasted for several months after treatment. It got better each month. If I remember correctly it was at least a year after treatment I began to not have to worry about leakage. I also had a feeling of need to blot.

Shannon D
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2015

I can only take Tylenol because I have a port in my chest .the pain between my legs is so bad sometimes. My lady parts are so chap an I can't use nothing. An I don't really have feeling down there.did this happen to you. What is your advice if any?

mp327's picture
Posts: 3783
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry you are in such pain.  You might try Domeboro soaks, which are pads that can be soaked and laid upon your burned areas.  I also found soaking in a tub of warm water soothing.  Have you talked to your doctors about getting something stronger for your pain?  I wish you all the very best.


Posts: 442
Joined: Aug 2014

I do not understand why you can have only Tylenol for pain. That's crazy talk! I think you are being way undermedicated. When the radiation damage was at it's worse, I went from Fentanyl 20 mcg patches to 50 mcg patches and from Oxycodone for break-through pain to morphine (don't remember the dose). My mediport wasn't removed for another 6 months afterwards. Maybe you can have your radiation oncologist speak to your medical oncologist about treating you adequately?

Ooops! I only just noted the date of your post. Sorry. I hope you got the pain relief you deserved.

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2012

I have anal cancer and suffered severe radiation burns on my genitals. The only thing I found that worked, and worked almost overnight, was pure african shea butter. You can buy it on line. I also had 3rd degree burns and blistering in the worse area possible and literally over night I started to heal! It was amazing and I have told everyone I can about it.

AZANNIE's picture
Posts: 443
Joined: Mar 2011

I was hospitalized with burns and the wound care nurse prescribed xenaderm ointment that helped. Since I'm allergic to sulfa, I couldn't use the silvadene. The burns healed pretty fast. While in the hospital they gave me a bottle of saline solution to pour on the area. I'm nine months post treatment and doing pretty well.

Posts: 151
Joined: Jul 2011

Biofine cream really helped sooth and heal my radiation burns.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2012

When I was @ the stage your mother is at I used aquapor mixed with lidocaine ointment. It helped a lot. As the burns healed I used aloe lotion, which soothed &cooled. I wish your mother well. It does get better.

Posts: 3
Joined: May 2012

When I was @ the stage your mother is at I used aqua poor mixed with lidocaine ointment. It helped a lot. As the burns healed I used aloe lotion, which soothed &cooled. I wish your mother well. It does get better.

Posts: 1122
Joined: Aug 2012

Just two things nobody has mentioned. I used sitz baths with the blue powder that is used in aquariums several times a day. It helped a great deal. It was recommended to me by the hospital. Sounds odd, but it worked.

Also, I kept a squeeze bottle filled with room temperature water with me at all times to help with the pain upon urination. I would spray it on the skin while urinating to minimize the burning. It helped quite a bit.

I hope your Mom feels better soon! And may I say how wonderful it is that she has such a caring daughter! I am a single Mom with one child, a daughter, and the time she spent with me was the best medicine!

Take care.


lizdeli's picture
Posts: 567
Joined: Jul 2009

I used Silverdane cream which helped a lot. One thing I do remember is how quickly the burns healed after I finished radiation. Everyone heals differently of course. I would say that two weeks after radiation I wasn't in pain from the burns. My skin was burnt and looked like charcol, but it really did start getting much much better.

Lorikat's picture
Posts: 664
Joined: Jul 2011

Two or three weeks healing for me as well Liz.  (Hello!). Still love long dress and commando at home though!

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2013

I came acros this after i tried everything for my father and was lucky to find the solution. His burn pain was terrible but the worst thing was blisters and oozing wounds, and frustrating visits to our regional wound center with little improvement. Our neighbor  nurse recommended to try a new dressing that she used for ulcers in a nursing home she worked for.  She gave me one dressing Enluxtra to try on his burn.  The result was amazing. It was soothing and his pain almost disappeared in a few minutes. I found them online and ordered a box of them. It was not cheap but very reasonable in comparison with the prices of useless things prescribed by the wound center. I changed those dressing every 3 days and that was a big relief for him and me , the pain was gone, no dry cracking skin, blisters broke but no wet mess everything healed in just a week or two.  Hopefully, it will help other people. He is a diabetic so I use this dressing also on any scratch or tear on his foot. We keep this dressing in our first aid kit. Recently, my granddaughter got  a bad burn on her little finger, she touched  a hot iron, this dressing worked great and the kid stopped crying in a few minutes as the pain gone, her mother called me the burn healed under that dressing after a few days. 

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2016

I have been using an After sun aloe and vitamin e cream which has helped to keep my skin from peeling and blistering during radiation treatments and also helped to manage dryness Healing my skin faster.   Since it has both aloe and vit e in the cream it helps to heal my skin after radiation treatments.  I'm very fair skin, and it has helped with keeping my skin soft And itch free.    I had a serious burn in the armpit area on one of my incisions in the fold and this cream helped heal it faster than any other cream or ointment.  I was not able to use other creams due to allergies so this cream is a godsend.  It's considered an after tanning cream, or after sun cream to help keep your tan but it has really managed to heal my skin faster than expected.  I purchased at Walmart and cvs, they even have a store brand with same ingredients.  Highly recommend to anyone going thru radiation trying to keep your skin from dryness and irritation.  I also used a cool pack on my skin daily to eliminate pain  and cool my skin after treatment which helped a lot.

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