Prevention and Treatment of Acute Radiation Dermatitis: A Literature Review

Mihkaila Maurine Wickline

ONF 2004, 31(2), 237-247. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.237-247

Purpose/Objectives: To review historical and current research data on prevention and treatment of acute radiation dermatitis.

Data Sources: 18 research trials and 1 case report published from 1967-2001 and 1 unpublished research trial from 1972.

Data Synthesis: Washing the skin with mild soap and water and the hair with mild shampoo is safe during radiation therapy. Biafine® (Medix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Largo, FL), chamomile cream, almond ointment, topical vitamin C, and gentian violet have not been proven effective and should not be used. Transparent, hydrocolloid, and hydrogel dressings have been beneficial, as have sucralfate cream and corticosteroid cream. Aloe vera may be beneficial and is not harmful.

Conclusions: The existing scientific data are lacking in quantity and quality. The current body of evidence is unable to provide clinicians with comprehensive guidelines for prevention and management of acute radiation dermatitis.

Implications for Nursing: Nurse clinicians and nurse scientists must partner to conduct further research to add to the limited resources about the prevention and management of acute radiation dermatitis and develop comprehensive evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.

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