Chronic radiation dermatitis — a therapy, precautionary measures

Disease characteristic
Symptoms of radiation dermatitis
Causes of radiation dermatitis and diagnosis
Therapeutic measures for radiation dermatitis
Folk medicine advice
Forecasts and prevention

Disease characteristic

Depending on the dose of radiation, the clinical picture may be different.

Under radiation exposure, the skin reddens. Blisters and ulcers are likely to be difficult to heal. The development of cancer against the background of atrophic pathologies and increased dryness, in which the destruction of the skin structure occurs, is not excluded.

The following categories are most susceptible to this disease: radiologists, other doctors working with specific equipment; patients undergoing radiation therapy; employees of nuclear power plants in case of accidents; people who are fond of tanning in a salon.

Symptoms of radiation dermatitis

Pathological violations of skin integrity, caused by ionizing radiation, can be divided into early and late. The first includes damage that occurs immediately after exposure or during the first three months. The second make themselves known in a few years.

On the photo ray dermatitis:

Radiation dermatitis
Radiation dermatitis

An early appearance is an acute erythematous form of radiation dermatitis (RD), caused by an exposure dose of 8-12 Gy. The affected areas become painful, the reddened body itches, creates discomfort for the patient. Then the hair falls out, the skin flakes off. However, after about 4 months the hair grows back. This form of the disease is not so dangerous, because it does not entail relapse. At the first stage, dry dermatitis is observed with the appearance of fine-lamellar flakes that peel. Wet RD may occur also, it causes the appearance of bubbles with serous fluid. After their healing, there are visible traces.

Symptoms of the disease are directly dependent on the exposure degree. Together with an increase in dose, they become more noticeable and severe.

With a degree of exposure of 12–20 Gy, the disease acquires a bullous form with the following symptoms:

  • Redness.
  • Severe itching.
  • Pain syndrome.
  • Edema.
  • Bubbles with serous fluid.
  • The appearance of erosion in place of bursting bubbles.
  • Regional lymph nodes increase markedly.
  • Body temperature rises quickly, sometimes to a critical point.
  • Hair starts to fall out.

The necrotic form occurs upon irradiation of 20 Gy, in which the following symptoms are added to the above symptoms:

  • Growing pain.
  • General weakness.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • There are non-healing ulcers.

After all stages of development, radiation dermatitis takes a chronic character. It can arise from a single powerful flux of radiation or upon repeated irradiation with small doses.

In the photo sun ray dermatitis:

Sunbeam dermatitis
Sunbeam dermatitis

The main features of chronic RD include:

  1. Excessive dry skin.
  2. Hyperkeratosis.
  3. Cracks and wounds.
  4. Hyper-and hypopigmentation, atrophic radiation ulcers.

Chronic radiation dermatitis develops much more slowly than an acute one, which often makes it difficult to diagnose. The process of the skin atrophy occurs unnoticed, it becomes noticeable when a person begins to lose hair intensively. The nuclei of the epidermis are destroyed, the veins are dilated, the fibrosis of vessels can be found, the change in pigmentation is accelerated. At this point, vascular necrosis may occur.

Causes of radiation dermatitis and diagnosis

The main factor provoking this type of disease is ionizing radiation directed at the epidermis. At the cellular level, irreversible changes occur.

For example, a radiologist throughout the entire period of work in the X-ray room receives a small portion of radiation, which ultimately can lead to radiation sickness. Most often this happens if the equipment is outdated, does not have reliable protection mechanisms.

When a cancer patient undergoes radiation therapy, he receives a high dose of radiation. And this causes a probable occurrence of RD. Unfortunately, such patients have little choice, because life itself is at stake, so you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Employees of enterprises associated with atomic energy also risk being among those with such a terrible disease. Causes may be accidents, breakage of protective equipment and/or banal carelessness of a person when he neglects the safety regulations.

The incentive factors include an excessive enthusiasm for tanning without first consulting a doctor, as well as being too often under the direct sunlight.

It is not difficult to diagnose this disease, especially if the source of exposure is determined. The doctor performs a visual examination of the skin, carries out a survey of the patient. If the stage of the disease has reached a severe form, he directs the patient to take blood, urine, bacterial cells of the affected epithelium tests. The contents of blisters or ulcers are also observed. If in doubt in the preliminary diagnosis, the patient may be referred for examination by an allergist, infectious disease specialist or endocrinologist.

The doctor differentiates this disease with exfoliative and other dermatitis types, highlighting the specific features and, most importantly, determining the cause of the disease.

When a patient is associated with a specific professional activity and there are obvious clinical signs, the doctor states the presence of RD.

Chronic radiation dermatitis
Chronic radiation dermatitis

When making a diagnosis, a dermatologist takes into account that radiation sickness develops after a large dose of radiation or as a result of receiving small portions over a long time. Thus, radiation dermatitis is nothing but a secondary symptom of a different ailment, in particular, cancer.

Therapeutic measures for radiation dermatitis

In order to prevent a chronic form, it is necessary to cope with acute in time, for this purpose such drugs are shown:

  • Antihistamines.
  • Antioxidants.
  • The complex of vitamins.
  • External remedies with corticosteroids: Vinilin balm, Methyluracil, Actovegin.
  • Vitaminized (A) ointments and creams.
  • Panthenol.

Solcoseryl, aloe extract, Xanthinol can be prescribed for intramuscular usage.

Prospidin or Fluorouracil creams will be needed to eliminate warty formations.

In case of severe forms, in addition to drug therapy, the following recommendations should be followed:

  1. Avoid contact with aggressive chemicals.
  2. Avoid exposure to sunlight.
  3. Apply creams with vitamins.
  4. Observe a special calorie diet.

The diet of the patient should contain:

  • Vitamins (B, C, A).
  • Retinol.
  • Zinc, copper, manganese salts.
  • Minimum salty and fatty foods.

In addition to drugs patients in severe stages are prescribed for the next procedures:

  1. Complex physical therapy.
  2. Physiotherapy procedures.
  3. Chemotherapy.

The chronic form of RD without signs of skin atrophy does not require radical methods and potent drugs. It is enough to avoid dangerous factors and use nourishing creams.

With pronounced elements of atrophy, anti-inflammatory drugs are needed to accelerate the regeneration of the skin. If the ulcers do not heal for a long time, surgical intervention is indicated: excision of the atrophic focus.

Folk medicine advice

Radiation dermatitis is treated in combination with traditional medicine methods. Of course, only after consulting a doctor.

Japanese Sophora

The seeds of the plant (2 tablespoons) pour with 500 ml of vodka or another alcohol diluted to 40 degrees. After 10 days the tincture for the wounds’ treatment is ready.

Kalanchoe with honey

The juice of the plant is mixed with bee honey in equal shares, left for 7 days to infuse. Then repeat all over again, and after the second infusion, the drug is ready to lubricate the affected areas.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil, taken alone, or mixed with vegetable or tar oil. Small portions applied to the wound and gently rubbed. Also, it is suitable for lotions that are applied for 20 minutes.

Dry wine and Plantago

The third part of a glass of dry white wine and 5 chopped juicy leaves of Plantago are mixed. The inflamed areas are wiped with the resulting mass.

Forecasts and prevention

The consequences of exposure may not be joyful: basal-cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma develops. This can happen in 7-10 years or more.

Relapse is not insured even for those patients whose non-healing skin areas were resected. The disease can intensify to the maximum, a fatal outcome is not excluded.

Preventive measures are to comply with radiation protection requirements (personal and professional). The main thing that can prevent undesirable consequences is a timely visit to the doctor when the first signals are observed.

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