Indexed on: 11 Nov '14Published on: 11 Nov '14Published in: British journal of nursing (Mark Allen Publishing)
Post-radiotherapy treatment depends on how the skin within the treatment field has reacted during radiotherapy for cancer. Skin reactions can range from mild dull erythema and tightening of the skin to severe moist desquamation, which may result in wounds that can be painful and sloughy. It is estimated that approximately 87% of patients will experience a moderate-to-severe skin reaction. This article discusses an evaluation of the use of a polymeric membrane dressing (PolyMem®, Aspen Medical) in 23 patients with skin reactions following radiotherapy. A purpose-designed evaluation form was completed over a period of 4 weeks or until healed. Patients were asked to complete both qualitative descriptions and numerical scores of pain for symptoms and procedural pain. Skin healing, pain and sleep patterns were all evaluated, with additional qualitative input on the patient experience. Successful symptom management regarding pain, exudate control and patient comfort was documented in both clinical observations and patient diaries.