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Saline soaked gauze for radiation treatments

My physiotherapist was telling me that some of her clients used saline soaked gauze during radiation treatment. I was wondering if anyone has done this? Is this a before, during or after treatment and did it help alleviate any side effects to the skin or was it just a soothing treatment. My radiologist/oncologist has told me about water based moisturizers to use daily but didn't say anything about a saline soak. I start radiation mid December and want to be armed and ready :)

Appreciate any feedback from this very supportive and helpful group.


7 Replies
Runner Girl
3137 Posts

I used the recommended Glaxal Base cream 3 times per day while doing my 21 radiation treatments. Once in morning after shower, once at clinic after radiation treatment and before bed.

I used cold aloe vera gel on a soft face cloth when my skin reddened and became very hot - this was near the end of the treatments when I was having the 5 boost treatments targeting the tumor bed.

Saline soaks are also good to use to bring the temp of your skin down and provide soothing relief, probably not needed initially if you are using the cream regularly.

Great question. I didn't use them mostly because I was too lazy and not good at sitting still and letting them do their job 😊. I used non- scented, non-alcohol based creams but then my burns got so bad towards the end, I ended up with a prescribed corticosteroid on the burns. I am happy to say I didn't have scarring from it but it was definitely uncomfortable while it existed.

Here is a link from cancer.ca on skin problems that may give you some ideas to help with anything that may arise. https://cancer.ca/en/treatments/side-effects/skin-problems

Everyone reacts differently but it is great that you are being proactive and thinking ahead to the what-ifs.

Wishing you well with radiation. Let us know how you are doing as you are able.


1466 Posts

good morning. I 125% endorse the saline soaks…..and I am really a no frills gal--ha ha.

had no intention of using much of anything as the first couple weeks of my radiation went smooth as silk.

UNTIL….I noticed some little blisters where skin met skin..

showed the techs, and they all nodded wisely and told me to ‘watch them’, and continue to use my moisturizer. (full disclosure - I was only applying when I remembered - so maybe once a day).
but by this time the horse was out of the barn…..no water based cream was gunna fix this. 😂
the techs gave me a heavy paste type ointment that helped A LOT.

I also started with homemade saline, (too cheap to buy the stuff when it can be made with tap water and salt), used a clean cotton wash cloth each and every time, and applied the compresses multiple times a day. I made a fresh batch of saline daily, (super easy to do – just search ‘homemade saline solution’ for the recipe), and stored it in the fridge. the cool was so comforting.

please learn from my mistakes. do use the moisturizer as recommended, and start now to get into the habit. ha ha

good luck with it all….
let us know how things move along

#salinesoak #radiationburns #breastradiaiton #homemadesalinesolution

60 Posts

@islandgirltoo The radiation team had little kits made up in brown bags of saline kits. They gave me one towards the end of my radiation. I was experiencing itching more then burning and these provided relief. I also used Glaxo base cream from Costco. Best of luck

3 Posts

I’ve just completed 4 weeks of radiation for breast cancer and was advised after the 2nd week to start using saline soaks followed by Glaxal Base 4x/day. They are extremely soothing and even helped my other breast as I’m still recovering from surgery (oncoplastic lumpectomy & bilateral reduction). It helped with incision, muscular/breast tissue and skin discomfort. You can easily make your own. Boil 2 cups of water to 1tsp table salt for 15 minutes, let cool & use. You can use gauze or face cloths soaked in the solution, place on skin for 15 minutes. Air dry for a few minutes then apply cream. Boil a fresh batch every day. My skin is slightly red but in good condition.

303 Posts

Hi Pat,

I did 15 rounds of radiation last January (for breast cancer), and I didn’t like the glaxal based cream at all, so used Lubriderm or Aveeno. My chemo nurses had actually told me about Cavillon spray, but I never ended up getting or needing it. My skin stayed intact. I had a bit of a sunburn, a rash and itching, but whatever you do, DONT SCRATCH!!!!

The saline soaks are for after I believe… I had heard about them as well, but didn’t try it. Get yourself a couple of extra large shirts/t shirts- you won’t want anything tight fitting touching your skin. The side effects peak about 2 weeks after radiation is finished… My biggest problem, honestly, was fatigue. I found it just as bad as my chemo fatigue, but, it was the middle of winter, dark, cold, and I hated it!

I hope your rads go well, keep us posted, and good luck!



Funny that you should mention it but I was rereading this part of my journey with radiation and rediscovered the simple saline soak. My radiation was for lung cancer tumour but there were some lymph nodes that were targeted up by my collar bone.

At first I thought I was just careless with sunscreen - yeah I kept walking and being outdoors with aggressive chemo-radiation but that's a different post.) But it had a funny pimpling/blistering aspect to it that just didn't seem like any sunburn I had seen before and it seemed to be getting worse.

Finally I asked my techs about it. They went and checked the targeting and discovered that indeed there was radiation being applied in that spot. They introduced me to the joys of saline soak. Ditto on the simplicity of the mix and the benefits of cooling that others have mentioned.

Because it was in the collar region shirts were a bit uncomfortable and I discovered that there were some really soft T-shirt fabrics that didn't seem to irritate it as much as well.

Bon chance.


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