Calendula for Radiation Induced Dermatitis

This is a picture of radiation dermatitis. This can happen in some women when they get radiation. The skin reacts and it can become very painful and obviously, uncomfortable. So there are some things, mechanically, that are very effective at helping to reduce the risk of dermatitis.

The first one I want to mention is Calendula. So Calendula is an herb that can be used topically. There’s a very important thing I want to say which is that you’d never want to put anything topically on your skin before radiation treatments because if you moisturize your skin before you get radiation, it can actually make that dermatitis worse. So you want to go in as dry as possible. But right after radiation, if you apply Calendula ointment, then it has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the risk of developing this dermatitis. Calendula is very very indicated; very well documented therapy to help reduce this dermatitis.

Interestingly, aloe vera, which is often used, is actually not by a research perspective, effective. And clinically, I’ve not seen it to be very effective either. But, there are some oral things, some botanicals that you can take by mouth that will help to reduce radiation dermatitis as well because they kind of stimulate moisturization in the skin and repair in the skin. So one is Turmeric or Curcumin. That can be helpful.

Another one is Milk Thistle. Milk Thistle is actually a very nice way to help reduce the risk of developing dermatitis. Just, again, taken orally concurrent with time of radiation. And if somebody develops radiation dermatitis, one of the treatments that can be used as a medicinal form of honey, which has been free of all microbes and is kind of very specific to medicinal use is from New Zealand originally, but purchasable here in the United States, certainly. Called Manuka Honey. Applying Manukah Honey, again, at like at night, so well after the radiation treatment can help to heal up dermatitis.

By: Dr Lise Alschuler

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