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Chemotherapy: What To Do While In Treatment

How To Lower Your Risk Of Infection During Chemotherapy

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© American Cancer Society 2010

Things that may help you prevent infections:

  • Wash your hands often during the day, especially before you eat and after you use the bathroom.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay away from people who have diseases you can catch, such as colds, the flu, measles, or chickenpox.
  • Do not get any immunization shots (vaccines) without first checking with your doctor.
  • Stay away from people who have recently had an immunization, such as a vaccine for chicken pox, small pox, or the flu. (Check with your doctor about which vaccines are important and for how long you should stay away).
  • Clean your rectal area gently but thoroughly after each bowel movement. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice if the area becomes irritated or if you have hemorrhoids. Also, check with your doctor before using enemas or suppositories.
  • Don't cut, bite, or tear the cuticles of your nails.
  • Be careful not to cut or nick yourself when using scissors, needles, or knives.
  • Use an electric shaver instead of a razor to prevent breaks or cuts in your skin.
  • Use an extra soft toothbrush that won't hurt your gums and talk to your doctor before using dental floss.
  • Don't squeeze or scratch pimples.
  • Take a warm (not hot) bath, shower, or sponge bath every day. Pat your skin dry using a light touch. Don't rub.
  • Use lotion or oil to soften and heal your skin if it becomes dry and cracked.
  • Clean cuts and scrapes right away with warm water, soap or antiseptic. 
  • Wear protective gloves when gardening or cleaning up after animals and others, especially small children.

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