Pimples and Pustules following Breast Cancer Surgery

Cynthia Bailey, MD|September 3, 2013

operating room lights Significant and long surgeries can result in a variety of skin rashes showing up during the post-operative period. Most commonly, the skin lesions are one of the following:

  1. Miliaria, which is also called "prickly heat," is due to sweating against a surface (like an OR gurney) that does not breath well. It results in small red bumps, blisters, or pustules where the skin was sweating.
  2. Red pressure marks from holding a position during a prolonged surgical procedure.
  3. Adhesive allergies from where tape or electrodes were stuck on the skin, leaving an allergic rash.
  4. Acne-like rashes, such as pityrosporum folliculitis, shaving folliculitis, and staph folliculitis.  

Accurate diagnosis is important as treatments do not overlap. I received this lovely thank you from a reader for helping her resolve her post-operative pityrosporum folliculitis, which allowed her to finish her breast cancer treatment and reconstruction. It is heartwarming for me to know that I made her treatment journey just a little bit easier. 

Dear Dr. Bailey, I would like to let you know what your products have done for me. Almost 2 years ago when I just turned 41, I had opted for a double mastectomy after a breast cancer diagnosis. Shortly after the surgery, I developed a nasty rash. After seeing 2 dermatologists and an infectious disease doc, I was diagnosed with pityrosporum folliculitis. I was not able to have my reconstructive surgery until I was able to control the rash. Nothing I was given really helped. I took matters into my own hands and found your website and your products for this type of folliculitis. I purchased them and after several weeks, my rash was almost gone and I was able to finally get my reconstructive surgery completed. After that surgery, I was still getting some breakouts. I bought your products again and they cleared me up again smile I am very thankful I found your website and I highly recommend your products. Thank you, Anissa, MA

Hello Anissa, Thank you for sharing your story and congratulations on getting through your treatments. I’m sorry that a stubborn skin rash slowed that process down for you and I’m truly glad you were creative and researched a solution for yourself – brilliant work! Pityrosporum yeast as the cause of acne and acne-like folliculitis is often under-appreciated in my opinion. It's a normal yeast in everyone's pores above the waist, but some people are more prone to the yeast overgrowing its healthy boundaries and causing a rash. Even people who are not particularly susceptible to pityrosporum folliculitis can suffer from this rash if they give the yeast just the right conditions for growth. In my experience, those conditions include times when your body is “under the weather” as one would be postoperatively.  Also, being sweaty when you have an infection will encourage yeast growth. Eating a lot of carbs and sugars seem to encourage the yeast to grow. Oily skin is a feast for pityrosporum as well. Back Acne Treatment for Pityrosporum FolliculitisI built my Back Acne Treatment Kit to treat pityrosporum folliculitis. It also treats acne vulgaris (common acne). It includes the Foaming Zinc Cleanser to frustrate the yeast and Benzoyl Peroxide Foaming Wash to clean out the pores, thereby removing some of the comfy food and pore debris that the yeast seems to like. There are other products that could be used with similar results if a person's skin is too sensitive to this powerful professional Treatment Kit. They include Calming Zinc Soap for people with drier skin. I like it applied with a Salux Cloth or Body Buf Puf Body Sponge with Handle. If there are a lot of clogged pores too, then adding the Foaming Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment Cleanser is helpful. Caution: benzoyl peroxide does bleach fabric and there is a chance you could be allergic to benzoyl peroxide. As an alternative, I use glycolic acid as in Glytone Body Wash or glycolic and salicylic acid as in my Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser to unclog the pores.   Calming Zinc gentle cleanser for pityrosporum folliculitis glytone body wash for pityrosporum folliculitis Foaming Acne Treatment Cleanser for folliculitis             A third alternative treatment routine that would be available at most drug stores is to use DHS Zinc Shampoo (contains the active ingredient zinc pyrithione zinc at a full 2%) alternating with a salicylic acid wash such as Neutrogena T/Sal shampoo on a back brush or Body Buf Puf with Handle. I used this combination for years in my dermatology practice and don't feel that these products work as well as my back acne kit, but they are an option. Dear Anissa, thank you for sharing your solution to the postoperative pityrosporum folliculitis rash that you developed as part of your breast cancer treatment. This will undoubtedly help many other breast cancer survivors who may develop this pimple-like rash during their treatment too. To learn more about Pityrosporum Folliculitis see my posts and advice pages below: Four Steps for Effective Treatment of Back, Chest and Body Acne How To Get Rid of Back Acne Pityrosporum Folliculitis; Could This Be Why Your Acne Won't Go Away? Warm Regards, Cynthia Bailey, MD Board Certified Dermatologist PS I have good news following my breast cancer surgery you will like here.

If you have found these Breast Cancer Surgery skin care tips useful, thanks for your "Likes",  Tweets, Pins, G's, sharing, and comments with others who have had breast cancer surgery. Let me know how you are doing.

    Photo: Thanks and Gratitude to James_jhs    

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