Body Parts: Whole Body
Medical Subjects: Skin

What Is Radiodermatitis

What disease is radioactive dermatitis?

Radiation dermatitis is one of the most common side effects of tumor radiotherapy. It is mainly caused by radiation that skin cells at the irradiation site are damaged and inflammation occurs. However, repeated radiation makes cells have no time to repair the damage.

The symptoms of radiodermatitis vary in severity, and severe radiodermatitis can seriously affect the quality of life of patients.

Treatment varies according to the severity of the condition, including topical ointments and dressings, and systemic antibiotic anti-infective therapy.

In patients with severe radiodermatitis, relapse is still possible years after the end of radiotherapy.

Is radioactive dermatitis common?

About 95% of patients receiving radiotherapy will develop radiodermatitis, especially patients with breast cancer, head and neck cancer, lung cancer or sarcoma, and are more likely to develop radiodermatitis because of the high radiation dose to the skin of these patients during radiotherapy.

What are the types of radioactive dermatitis?

Radiation dermatitis is generally divided into acute radiation dermatitis, radiation burns, radiotherapy memory reaction, chronic radiation dermatitis these several types.


What Is The Cause Of Radiodermatitis

What is the reason of radiodermatitis?

The cause of the disease is ionizing radiation. Most commonly in radiotherapy patients.

Which parts of the body and which groups of people are more prone to radiation dermatitis?

The following body parts are more susceptible to radiodermatitis:

  • Skin of the anterior region of the neck, limbs, chest, abdomen and face.

  • After breast remodeling and implantation, the skin at the breast part is also more prone to severe radiodermatitis because the skin cannot dissipate heat after breast remodeling and is more vulnerable to damage during radiotherapy.

The following populations are more susceptible to radiodermatitis:

  • Patients with connective tissue disease.

  • Patients who have received anticancer drugs such as anthracyclines, taxanes, and EGFR inhibitors (e.g., erlotinib).

  • Older patients.

  • Female patients.

  • Obese patients.

  • Patients with high sun exposure.

  • Patients who smoke.

Can radioactive dermatitis infect?


Does radioactive dermatitis meet heredity?



What Symptom Does Radioactive Dermatitis Have

What are the common manifestations of radiodermatitis?

According to the different types of radiodermatitis, the clinical manifestations are:

  • Acute radiodermatitis: redness, edema, color changes, hair loss, and desquamation of the skin. According to its severity can be divided into:

    • Mild dermatitis: manifested as mild erythema, erythema can turn white when pressed, and dry skin desquamation, often accompanied by pruritus and hair loss. Mild dermatitis usually develops a few days to several weeks after initiating radiation therapy, and the symptoms may resolve within one month.

    • Moderate dermatitis: Expressed as pain, tightness of the skin, erythema and edema, local loss of epidermis, wet skin desquamation (often confined to skin folds), bullae, which may rupture or become infected. Moderate dermatitis is usually the most severe 1–2 weeks after radiotherapy.

    • Severe dermatitis: Fusion wet skin desquamation occurs at the parts except for skin wrinkles, which may further develop into full-thickness necrosis and ulcer of the skin, with the risk of infection, often accompanied by severe pain.

  • Radioactive burn: radioactive burn can occur weeks to years after receiving radiation; it is more likely and more severe with the increase in radiation dose and can cause severe pain.

  • Memory reaction after radiotherapy: It is an acute inflammation limited to the site of previous radiation, often caused by chemotherapy drugs or other drugs, with the main manifestations of mild rash, dry skin desquamation, pruritus, swelling, ulcer, etc., and usually disappears within 1–2 weeks after drug discontinuation.

  • Chronic radiodermatitis: it usually develops months to years after radiation and is mainly characterized by dermal fibrosis, skin pigmentation changes, atrophy, and telangiectasia.

Where does radiodermatitis often occur?

Radiodermatitis is often confined to the irradiated area with a clear boundary with normal skin.

  • What adverse consequences can radioactive dermatitis cause?皮肤全层坏死和溃疡。

  • Secondary infection, sepsis, and even death.

  • Severe pain.

  • Fibrosis. Fibrosis occurs not only in the skin, but also in the lung, gastrointestinal tract, urinary tract, reproductive organs, muscles and other areas, seriously affecting the quality of life of patients, or even leading to death.


How To Check For Radiodermatitis

How is radioactive dermatitis diagnosed?

Doctors rely mainly on history and skin changes in the diagnosis of radiodermatitis: patients with a recent history of radiation therapy have skin changes that are limited to the irradiated area with a clear boundary, ranging from erythema and dry skin desquamation to wet skin desquamation and skin necrosis.

No additional tests are generally required.

Does radiodermatitis need to do skin biopsy to confirm diagnosis?


What disease is radioactive dermatitis easy and confused? How?

  • Radiodermatitis is easily confused with allergic contact dermatitis, which may be caused by cosmetics, adhesive bandages, or markers during radiosimulation.

  • Radiodermatitis is also easily confused with dermatophytosis, which rarely occurs at the radiation site and manifests as single or multiple annular erythema with well-defined scaly margins.

  • Radiodermatitis is also easily confused with toxic epidermal necrolysis, a severe skin reaction usually caused by drugs.


How To Prevent Radiodermatitis

Can radioactive dermatitis be prevented? How to prevent radiodermatitis?

Patients undergoing radiation therapy may take the following precautions:

  • Do not use moisturizers, gels, emulsions, or dressings before each treatment, which increases the amount of radiation received by the skin and predisposes to radiodermatitis. You can use water to wash and dry the skin.

  • After each dose of radiation, a corticosteroid hormone such as 0.1% mometasone furoate or 1% hydrocortisone cream may be applied over the irradiated skin area.

  • Attention should be paid to skin care when radiotherapy is not performed. Use gentle skin care products such as aloe-based gels. Avoid contact with chemical irritants such as perfumes and alcohol-based skin care products.

  • Avoid the wind and sun.

  • Don't smoke.


How To Treat Radiodermatitis

Which branch should radioactive dermatitis see?

Dermatology or general internal medicine.

Can radioactive dermatitis oneself good?

Mild dermatitis such as only slight redness or erythema or dry skin desquamation, even if not treated will improve, may be better within 1 month.

How is radioactive dermatitis treated?

Treatment options vary according to the severity of radiodermatitis:

  • Mild dermatitis: No specific treatment is required, only skin care is required. If skin desquamation is found, hydrophilic emollients (such as glycerol) can be applied externally. Topical corticosteroids (e.g., 0.1% mometasone furoate, 1% hydrocortisone cream) may also be used to relieve itching or irritation.

  • Moderate dermatitis: For wet skin desquamation, doctors may use dressings on areas where the skin has fallen off. In the case of secondary infection, the doctor applies anti-infective therapy with antibiotics (external or oral).

  • Severe dermatitis: The disease progresses to full-thickness skin necrosis and ulcer, and radiotherapy may need to be stopped, accompanied by surgical debridement, skin transplantation, and others.

Can radioactive dermatitis effect a radical cure?

Depends on the severity of radiodermatitis. In severe patients, unpredictable disease reversals can occur years after radiation exposure.


What Should Radioactive Dermatitis Patient Notice In Life

What should radioactive dermatitis patient notice on food?

Be nutritionally balanced and eat foods high in vitamin C and B (such as fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains), which can help reduce radiation reactions.

What should radioactive dermatitis patient notice in life?

  • Wear soft, wide cotton undergarments, especially the neck, shoulders and underarm should not be too tight, to avoid friction.

  • The skin at the radiotherapy part should be protected from cold and heat stimulation and direct sunlight, and should be kept out during going out.

  • Do not expose the skin at the radiotherapy site to detergents, alcohol, iodine, and creams containing zinc and aluminum.

  • Do not use cornstarch or baby powder in wrinkles.

  • Avoid scratching, no adhesive plaster, keep the skin clean and dry.

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