Specialized Care for Skin Conditions Caused by Cancer Treatment

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Skin rashes, inflammation, and other painful skin, hair, and nail reactions are common side effects of cancer treatment. Getting prompt, effective treatment from a dermatologist who specializes in cancer-related skin complications will improve your quality of life.

Duke is one of the few comprehensive cancer centers with dermatologists who provide this highly specialized dermatologic care. We care for people who are currently receiving cancer treatment at Duke or elsewhere.

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Skin Conditions and Cancer Treatment

Mild to severe skin reactions are common during many types of cancer treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow and stem cell transplants. Skin complications can include:

  • Itching, swelling, and painful inflammation
  • Rashes, blisters, and sores
  • Skin darkening, flaking, and peeling
  • Changes to nail texture and color
  • Swollen cuticles

While many treatments are available to alleviate these conditions, it’s important to know which treatment is right for you during and after your cancer treatment. For example, some products typically used to treat these skin conditions should not be given to people whose immune systems are compromised. Other medications can have a negative impact on your cancer treatment.

You may be referred to a dermatologist by your oncologist to ensure your skin condition is treated promptly and effectively. The dermatologist will work closely with your cancer team. They recommend medications that do not negatively impact your cancer treatment or increase your risk for cancer recurrence.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Graft Versus Host Disease Following Bone Marrow Transplant

Graft versus host disease (GvHD) is a common complication that affects the organs, including the skin, following an allogenic bone marrow transplant, meaning cells are transplanted from a donor. It may be a temporary condition that starts as a skin rash on the hands and feet but can spread to other parts of the body. It requires immediate treatment and ongoing care from an experienced dermatologist to ensure it does not become life-threatening.

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Ongoing Cancer-Related Skin Care Management

Our dermatologists are available right in the cancer clinics and work closely with your medical oncologist when skin-related treatment is needed.

Best Cancer Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your cancer care is important. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our cancer program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 08/24/2021