Topical application of a sandal wood oil and turmeric based cream prevents radiodermatitis in head and neck cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy: a pilot study

Br J Radiol. 2014 Jun;87(1038):20130490. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20130490. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Objective: The study objective was to assess the effectiveness of a turmeric- and sandal wood oil-containing cream [Vicco(®) turmeric cream (VTC); Vicco Laboratories, Parel, India] on radiodermatitis in patients with head and neck cancer undergoing radiotherapy.

Methods: A total of 50 patients with head and neck cancer requiring >60 Gy of curative radiotherapy/chemoradiotherapy were enrolled in the study. The volunteers were randomly divided into two groups of 25 patients. Group 1 was assigned to a topical application of Johnson's(®) baby oil (Johnson & Johnson Ltd, Baddi, India) and Group 2 for VTC. Prophylactic application of the cream was initiated on Day 1 and continued every day until 2 weeks after the end of treatment. Both agents were symmetrically applied within the irradiated field five times a day, and the acute skin reactions were assessed twice weekly in accordance with the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group scores by an investigator who was unaware of the details.

Results: The incidence of radiodermatitis increased with the exposure to radiation and was the highest in both groups at Week 7. However, a significant reduction in grades of dermatitis were seen in cohorts applying VTC at all time points, including 2 weeks post radiotherapy (p < 0.015 to p < 0.001). The occurrence of Grade 3 dermatitis was lower in the cohorts using VTC and was statistically significant (p < 0.01). Additionally, follow-up observations 2 weeks after the completion of radiotherapy also showed a reduced degree of radiodermatitis in cohorts applying VTC, which was significant (p = 0.015).

Conclusion: VTC is shown to be effective in preventing radiodermatitis and needs to be validated in larger double-blind trials.

Advances in knowledge: For the first time, this study shows that the turmeric- and sandal oil-based cream was effective in preventing radiation-induced dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Curcuma*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ointments
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Radiodermatitis / prevention & control*
  • Sesquiterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ointments
  • Plant Oils
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • sandal wood oil-turmeric cream
  • sandalwood oil