What are burns?

Burns are caused by tissue damage due to heat, chemicals, electricity, radiation, or the sun. The burns caused by radiation therapy need a different approach to treatment. Radiation therapy is used to treat cancer patients with the aim of destroying malignant cancer cells and shrink malignant tumors. However, this treatment can have adverse side effects like burns on the skin, excessive sweating, and so on due to the high amount of heat generated by radiation therapy.

Who might get a burn?

A burn occurs when skin tissue is damaged by heat, chemicals, sunlight, electricity, or radiation. The majority of burns are a by-product of radiation therapy. Patients undergoing Chemotherapy and other types of radiation therapy may get skin reactions like burns.

Causes of Burns

Radiation treatment is used to treat nearly two-thirds of cancer patients. Approximately 85 percent of those patients have moderate-to-severe skin responses.  These usually appear within the first two weeks of treatment and might linger for several years after treatment is finished. Concentrated X-ray beams penetrate through the skin during radiation treatment, producing irradiated free radicals. 

This results in:

Tissue harm and DNA damage. DNA damage causes skin inflammation (affecting both the epidermis and dermis or the outer and interior layers of skin).

Symptoms of Burns:

General symptoms of radiation burns include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Flaking 
  • Peeling
  • Soreness
  • Moistness
  • Blistering
  • Pigmentation changes
  • Fibrosis, or scarring of connective tissue
  • Development of ulcers

Burns or X-ray dermatitis ranges from acute to chronic and generally develops in four stages of severity. In some rare cases, a person may not develop radiation burns.

The four grades of burns radiation dermatitis are:

  • Redness
  • Peeling
  • Swelling
  • Death of skin cells

Risk Factors:

Some people are more likely to get radiation dermatitis than others. Risk factors include:

  • Skin disease
  • Obesity
  • Application of preventive cream before treatment
  • Malnutrition
  • Certain infectious diseases like HIV
  • Diabetes

Treatment methods for burns:

Corticosteroid cream

Topical steroid cream is often prescribed for radiation dermatitis, although clinical evidence is mixed concerning this treatment option.


Oral and topical antibiotics have shown effectiveness in treating the burns associated with radiotherapy.

3. Silver leaf nylon dressing

Burns on the skin are typically treated with gauze. When it comes to radiation burns, though, studies show trusted Source silver leaf nylon dressing is one of the best options available.

This skin dressing is effective because of its antimicrobial and anti-infective properties. The silver ions used in the nylon dressing release into the skin and work quickly to relieve discomfort and improve recovery.

It is also helpful for relieving symptoms of:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Burning

4. Zinc

The body uses zinc to promote immune function. It can be used topically to treat acne, burns, cuts, and ulcers, in addition to X-ray dermatitis.

While doctors haven’t completely endorsed zinc as an effective treatment method, it has many benefits that can improve your skin. If taken orally, zinc is an effective treatment for ulcers and swelling.

5. Amifostine

Amifostine is a medicine that removes free radicals and reduces toxicity from radiation.

According to clinical trials, chemotherapy patients using amifostine had a 77 percent reduced risk of radiation dermatitis compared to those who didn’t use the drug.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the injectable form of amifostine. It’s only available via prescription, so you have to speak with your doctor about using this treatment option.

How to prevent radiation burns?

There are several steps you may take to avoid more serious radiation burn symptoms.
A variety of factors might aggravate painful, crumbly, or dry skin. As a matter of thumb, try to avoid:

  • Scratching and picking at afflicted skin.
  • Perfume, deodorant.
  • Alcohol-based lotion-scented soap swimming in chlorinated pools or hot tubs.
  • Spending too much time in the sun.
  • Keeping your skin clean, fresh, and moisturized can go a long way toward preventing radiation burns.


Radiation therapy can treat cancer, but it also causes serious side effects. However, with the right treatment and oversight from your doctor or dermatologist, you can prevent and treat X-ray dermatitis.

Facial Burns Clinic:

We provide the best healthcare facilities for Burn patients. Our multispeciality clinics are situated in the following locations:

Our Main Centre for Facial Burns & Treatment / Care Treatment in Dadar, Mumbai

Our Centres for Facial Burns & Treatment / Care Treatment

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Byculla Branch

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Marine Lines Branch

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Dadar Branch

One can visit any of our branches that are nearby to your location for the best overall healthcare treatment of Burns. Our experts not only provide superior quality care using the latest technologies but also provide complete treatment along with rehabilitation facilities and post-operative care.