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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Comparison of gentian violet application and moisture vapour permeable dressings for the management of open skin lesions secondary to radiation therapy for head and neck cancer Korabek, Barbara Joyce


A randomized controlled pilot study of 9 patients who developed an open skin lesion secondary to radiation therapy for primary head and neck cancer was initiated. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine and compare the effectiveness of gentian violet (GV) and moisture vapour permeable dressing (MVPD) in promoting healing and reducing discomfort at an open lesion site secondary to radiation therapy. Patients were randomly assigned to either the gentian violet or moisture vapour permeable dressing group at the time of lesion onset. The skin care treatments were evaluated with respect to the rate of lesion healing and discomfort levels at the lesion site. Data were collected using two forms specifically designed for this study. Nine subjects completed the study. All patient’s skin lesions healed with no evidence of infection in any of the lesions. The results of the study, statistically analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U test with = 0.05, supported the two hypotheses proposed in this study. Lesions treated with MVPD demonstrated a significantly faster healing rate than did those treated with GV ( U = 8, = 0.05). The results also indicated the patients treated with MVPD experienced significantly lower levels of burning, itchiness, pulling and tenderness (U = 9, < 0.001) at the lesion site 24 hours after starting the study and when their lesions were at maximum size. Although the sample was small the results of this study tend to indicate that in the clinical practice setting, MVPD can be used effectively as a treatment for skin lesions, secondary to RT, involving the epidermal and portions of the dermal layers of the skin.

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