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Very cold and flaky skin

Hi , my father in law had his donor stem cell transplant on 1st September last year, he is still very very cold and very flaky skin from head to toe , he has been now been diagnosed with an under active thyroid , not sure if the cold and flaky skin is part of that . Is this normal for this to happen after a stem cell transplant ???


  • Hi
    I definitely remember having very flaky skin for months following transplant, certainly at the point your father in law is ar now. Even now almost 4 years on I still have dry skin mainly on my legs and arms but nothing like the first few months post transplant.
    There are lots of remedies, for me Diprobase was a great help and I still use it if it gets troublesome. I think the dry skin is a common factor, referred to as GvHD.
    I didn't have a thyroid problem so I can't help there. Hopefully somebody may be able to help.
    I also felt very cold in the first few months but that did improve and it's not a problem now.

    I would keep raising the issue when he attends his appointments and hopefully it will be dealt with.
    It does sound like he is making progress after transplant and as the weather improves I'm sure he will continue to feel better.

    Best wishes

  • Hi Michelle.

    Like Peter the dry skin sounds like GvHD to me as it was something that I suffered from and I don't think it's related to his underactive thyroid.

    For me this started about 3-4 months after my transplant and affected most of my body, with my face particularly dry and crusty each morning.

    I used various creams for relief including Dipropase and Zerobase, and bathing in E45 bath oil for a couple of hours each night gave some temporary relief and helped me get to sleep each night.

    Not long after the GvHD started I was also put on a high dose of Prednisolone oral steroids and various steroid creams which had some effect but didn't conquer the GvHD completely so I was eventually referred to another hospital for photophoresis treatment.

    My understanding is that the GvHD is caused by some of the bodies existing cells fighting against the transplanted cells which causes a reaction. In fairness the skin GvHD whilst it is a nuisance and frustrating is not as serious as GvHD in other areas, such as the gut, which I believe can be much more serious.

    The photophoresis is not something that everyone gets put forwards for as it is a big commitment, due to it being time consuming for the patient and expensive for the hospital. It involves something I liken to dialysis, where a portion of the blood is processed through a machine similar to a stem cell collection machine which separates out the problematic cells and they are treated to 'reprogramme' them. For me this process went on for 18 months with a reducing frequency, but it did eventually resolve the problem.

    Like Peter I also felt cold constantly and spent most of my time wearing multiple layers or with a throw over me whilst sitting watching TV. It has now gone too and was possibly related to the GvHD.

    It sounds like he needs to raise his concerns at his next follow up with his medical team and query whether they think it is GvHD so that it can be treated as necessary. Having suffered from it myself for so long I know how irritating and frustrating it can be.

    I hope your father in law is doing well otherwise and that his recovery is progressing without any other complications.


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