According to Brenna Quinn, Occupational Therapist and Lymphology Association of North America lymphedema-certified therapist at Cape Cod Healthcare “Radiated skin can become irritated, burned and blistered, causing pain and discomfort. In severe cases, radiated skin can break down and develop open wounds that can complicate and delay treatment.” She advises her patients to care for their skin early; two weeks prior to treatment, continuing several weeks after radiation is completed.
Although creams made with aloe or petroleum are often recommended for radiation burn care and skin side effects of radiation therapy, Quinn says that calendula cream, is giving the status quo a run for its money. Due to calendula’s benefits on radiated skin, clinicians increasingly recommend it. Calendula succus is popular among naturopathic physicians, who use it during minor surgical procedures (to help heal the incision) and topically on skin wounds and infections.
Calendula, a plant extract, is beneficial for dry or damaged skin and promotes the fast healing and regeneration of the skin. It is also applied to the skin (used topically) for nosebleeds, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, inflammation of the rectum (proctitis), and inflammation of the lining of the eyelid (conjunctivitis).
Calendula is an emollient and can help to moisturize dry skin. It also contains carotenoids which nourish the skin.
Scars and Varicose Veins
A calendula wash is used for healing scars, thread veins and soothing varicose veins. Thread veins are tiny, broken veins on the face. To make a wash: steep leaves in water for 20 minutes to 3 hours. Strain. Pat on face, keep on for at least 20 minutes and gently wash off. An alternative to this is to make a strong tea of 1 tablespoon per cup of water, strain and add the tea to a bath. Soak in the bath for a 20 to 30 minutes minimum.
Calendula as Antiseptic
It has antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it useful for salves and balms for cuts, wounds and for healing piercings. Any other lacerations, hang nails, bedsores, irritated rashes will benefit from using calendula.
Prevention of Dermatitis
Calendula has been shown to work in the prevention of acute dermatitis for patients undergoing postoperative irradiation for breast cancer. To use for protection from environmental stressors, apply a calendula salve before and after the stress.
Wound Healing Activity of Calendula for Skin
Perhaps the most common and therapeutic uses of calendula for skin is for healing wounds. It is used on both new and old wounds, is safe for mucous membranes and has a great track record.
Using calendula increases both wound closure (very important in wound healing) and protein metabolism (forming new skin). For healing wounds, a daily application of calendula extract or calendula cream is used.
For slowly healing wounds and amputation stumps, one study showed that wound granulation appeared within several days of initiating treatment and secondary skin developed within 10 to 14 days. Using calendula ointment also reduced discomfort during dressing changes.
Calendula speeds up cell proliferation which quickens healing. It also keeps wounds from hardening and forming scars. It would be beneficial to use for healing the perineum after childbirth. It helps to heal burns (including sunburn), bruises and inflammatory diseases of the skin.
Calendula is used in everything from lip balms, tinctures, wound washes and oils.