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2 Thoughts to “Understanding radiation dermatitis”

  1. Dr. Linda Benskin

    This is an excellent overview of an important topic. However, it is a bit out of date when it says, “No specific dressing is better than any other…” The reference is from 2013. As I documented in the evidence table of my June 2016 article in OWM [1], recently a great deal of research has been done on the use of polymeric membrane dressings (PMDs, PolyMem), including for the prevention and management of radiation dermatitis. When used on intact skin, PMDs subdue and focus the nociceptor response, which can dramatically decrease pain and inflammation.[1] PMDs also provide continuous cleansing of damaged skin and open wounds, and they contain soothing glycerin, which keeps them from adhering to damaged tissue.[1] Two articles in the British Journal of Nursing serve to illustrate the effectiveness of PMDs with respect to radiation dermatitis. When Scott [2] used PMDs on 20 head and neck cancer patients, she found that PMDs reduced inflammation, pain medication usage, healing time, and time of skin exposure during dressing changes (because additional cleansing was not needed). Comfort, independence, ability to sleep, and quality of life were improved. Hegarty and Wong [3] used PMDs on 23 radiation therapy patients who also reported pain reduction and improvement of skin.

    1. Benskin LL. Polymeric Membrane Dressings for topical wound management of patients with infected wounds in a challenging environment: A protocol with 3 case examples. Ostomy Wound Management. 2016;62(6):42-62.
    2. Scott A. Polymeric membrane dressings for radiotherapy-induced skin damage. Br J Nurs. 2014;23(10):S24, S26-31. doi:10.12968/bjon.2014.23.Sup10.S24.
    3. Hegarty F, Wong M. Polymeric membrane dressing for radiotherapy-induced skin reactions. Br J Nurs. 2014;23 Suppl 20:S38-46. doi:10.12968/bjon.2014.23.Sup20.S38.

    Linda Benskin, PhD, RN, SRN (Ghana), CWCN, CWS
    Independent Researcher for Rural Areas of Tropical Developing Countries and
    Clinical Research & Education Liaison, and Charity Liaison, Ferris Mfg. Corp

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