Tips & Tricks

Beat the Heat with these Lymphedema Summer Safety Tips!

The heat doesn't mean you have to stay inside all summer long — there are lots of things you can do to enjoy your summer to the fullest while staying safe and healthy!

Since it’s halfway through summer, I figured it was a great time for a refresher post on lymphedema summer safety!

Although the sun may feel good, it has the potential to create a lot of problems for us lymphies, like increased swelling and risk of infection. Don’t take that to mean you have to stay inside all summer long, though — there are lots of things you can do to help alleviate the discomfort and risks so that you can enjoy your summer to the fullest while staying safe and healthy!

Staying Cool

  • When indoors, try to stay where it’s well air-conditioned.
  • The hottest parts of the day are between 11 am and 3 pm – try to limit your time outside during these hours!
  • If you get overheated, elevate your affected limb and place a cold, wet towel over it.
  • Drink plenty of water! Staying well hydrated makes it easier for your body to regulate its temperature.
  • Wear light, loose, non-constricting clothing. This creates better lymphatic flow, as well as keeping you cooler!
  • Powder the inside of your shoes with an unscented bath powder or anti-fungal powder to help prevent fungal infections.

Sunburn

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure, as sunburn will place an extra burden on your lymphatic system and increase swelling.
  • Remember that even if you are wearing a compression garment, it is still possible to get sunburn.
  • Be sure to wear sunscreen when going outside!

Swimming

  • Chlorine can be drying to your skin, causing breakage and giving bacteria a way to enter and cause infection. You can combat this by applying a moisture barrier cream before getting into the water, as well as after you get out of the pool.
  • Avoid a fungal infection by wearing footwear at all times when you aren’t in the pool, especially in the shower area!
  • When swimming in a natural body of water, wear water shoes to avoid cutting your feet on shells or stones.
  • If you have a skin break on your affected limb, it’s best not to go into the water.
  • While swimming, you can wear an old compression garment or none at all – just be sure to don some form of compression once you get out!
  • Take a bath or shower after swimming, and be sure to dry off completely afterward. Keeping the skin dry is important as excess moisture trapped between your skin and compression garment can promote bacterial growth and risk of infection!

Take Care of Your Garment

  • Get measured for a garment after the hot weather starts, and again after it has ended. This way, your garments will be better fitted to the seasonal changes your edema goes through.
  • Clean your garment regularly to avoid deterioration from sweat, body oils, and sunscreen!

Insect Bites

  • Apply insect repellent before going outside. Avoid using ones with DEET, however. You can do this by purchasing natural repellents from health food stores.
  • Treat insect bites immediately to avoid increased swelling or itching in that area. Wash and dry the area completely before applying antibiotic cream or ointment.
  • If you’re going camping, bring along a specialized first aid kit that includes alcohol wipes to clean any skin breaks, antibiotic cream, and bandages.
Me last summer at my favorite vacation spot: Ocean City, MD!
Me at my favorite vacation spot last summer.

To read even more summertime tips for lymphies, click here! Don’t forget to add your favorite warm weather tips in the comments below!

19 comments on “Beat the Heat with these Lymphedema Summer Safety Tips!

  1. Alexa I just want to thank you for this site. I am 51 and have never known anyone else with lymphedema in one leg like me. I look forward to these emails and find them really useful. Previously Summer has always been a nightmare for me but now I think, “you know what, this is me and I wear a compression garment…so what!” I can still do all the things I like to do and am now far less self conscious :)

    • Hello, Lynda! I’m so glad you’ve found the site, and I’m even MORE glad that you’ve taken control of your lymphedema rather than letting it control you!! It’s so easy to think we “can’t” do certain things or wear certain things, when it’s not so much that we “can’t” but that we “won’t”. I mean obviously, some things we can’t do for health reasons, but we can sure as hell wear a pair of shorts if the spirit moves us! ;)

      Keep up the great attitude and I’m happy to have you as a reader!
      Be well,
      Alexa

  2. Noreen O Connor

    Alexa ,Thank you for the Blogs ,I live in Ireland where it took them about 10 years to diagnose my condition and because its primary there is no support .I do all my own research as I have some medical knowledge,the two best aids I suggest for Lymphedema of lower extremities is taking Daflon 500 which I get from Europe and using a foot massager called Revitive 1X .Climate is not hot here so that helps and I wear Jobst and bandage Every night.Its a nuisance but I have finally accepted the condition and keep control over it.Kind Regards Noreen.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    • Hi, Noreen! Thank you so much for your comment and all the helpful information! I’m glad you are managing your lymphedema and have come to a place of acceptance. It’s important for us to realize that this does not need to limit us in any way—we just need to readjust a bit! :)

      Be well and stay elevated!
      Alexa

  3. Reblogged this on Free From Lymphedema and commented:
    Very timely advice.

    I am in Central Europe now, can’t wait to go to some sea :-)

  4. Pingback: End-of-Summer Wrap Up | The Lymphie Life

  5. I’m in the uk and enjoyed our cooler summer…..until the last few weeks which became a heat wave! Wearing compression tights combined with regular hot flushes and no AC at work hasn’t been a great combination….I have a new pair of tights that have just arrived ( needed new ones having lost weight and my leg reduced too yay) that are one legged. I’ve been wearing them with shirts and sometimes skirts., not too much in public but am working up to it…. They are black and for some reason I feel more confident in them than the beige two legged ones. I think because it gives the impression I have some sort of sports injury ha ha ! Thanks for your blog xx

  6. That should have read shorts not shirts! X

  7. Hi, as always I appreciate your advice, especially now that I’m sweating through the summer here in Japan! I have a question – perhaps it’s something other people worry about, perhaps not. How do you keep from freaking out when you find a rash or something on your leg? I’m paranoid about skin care and do pretty well with it, I think, but I have sensitive skin so the combination of stocking and the bandaids I occasionally put on to protect bumps/apparent small cuts every so often produces rashes. As the years go by I’m getting better at judging what’s a problem and not, but there’s often a bit of a panic attack. Anybody have good ways around this? I had cellulitis once badly enough to be hospitalized, right after my lymphedema was diagnosed, so this remains in the back of my head even though it’s five years ago. Any input for dealing with the emotional sides of this welcome!

    • I’ll respond to myself to say that this summer, I had almost no rashes of any kind. Not sure whether it was much more careful washing of compression stocking or the fact that I was eating a lot more fruit and thus getting more vitamins of some kind, but compared to previous years things this summer were great. (It also wasn’t as hot, so that could have been part of it too.) Anyway, I’d like to encourage people to think of solutions like this if you get hot weather rashes.

  8. I’m interested to know if there is a medical reason not to use bug spray with deet, or just that it may be more dangerous for everyone than more natural bug sprays?

    • Hi, Kathleen,
      I wrote to use DEET-free repellents because DEET is a chemical that can be harmful in large doses to everyone – not just lymphies: it can be absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream, affecting the nervous system and brain. The EPA says it is safe to use in small doses, so if using a bug spray containing DEET be sure not to over-apply, and to follow the precautions on the label!

      Bug sprays come in a range of percentages of DEET, so you can get a repellent with a lower DEET concentration if needed. Like you mentioned, there are also more natural options for bug repellent, too.

      Hope that helps!
      Be well,
      Alexa

  9. I am new to the lymphie life. Mine came about after a double mastectomy, so it mainly affects my chest and stomach. Was reading about the summer tips and am confused as you said to “Wear light, loose, non-constricting clothing. This creates better lymphatic flow, as well as keeping you cooler!” I thought I was supposed to wear my compression wear all day every day and only remove it at bedtime? I also have multiple sclerosis so over heating is really bad for me too. So question is, can I wear loose, light clothing, or do I need to wear the compression stuff all of the time? I sure would love to just wear my cotton night gowns on these hot muggy days!

    • Hi, Laura,
      Welcome to the lymphie life! I’m sorry if my post wasn’t clear—definitely always wear your compression! The “light, loose, non-constricting clothing” referenced in the post is referring to your regular clothing, worn atop the compression. (For example, a pair of loose linen pants worn over compression as opposed to a pair of tight jeans, or a flowy non-constrictive blouse as opposed to a form-fitted top.) Hope that helps!

      Be well (and stay cool!!),
      Alexa

  10. I love all the information

  11. Great tips! I never thought about using old compression garments when using the pool.

  12. Geetha Abeysinghe

    Good tips. I too am very new to Lymphedeema. I had lumpectomy on my left breast last year and finished radiotherapy in February this year. I live in UK but came to Sri Lanka to visit my family. The temperature is extremely high. I have a very sensitive skin and hot weather tends to cause rashes on my arms even if I am out of the sun. a couple of weeks back the rashes caused infection and my lower arm swelled.

    These are very good tips especially using a cold wet towel.If the itchiness is too much I tend to use antihistamines. They help a lot.

  13. Peter Johnson

    I am a new lymphie after having a sarcoma removed on my hamstring muscle area. Surgery and radiation can damage your lymphatic system, but they don’t tell you that till its too late. My leg was puffing up when I was relaxing regularly in a hot jacuzzi or steam room at the gym. My lymphoderma is under control by wearing compression 20-30 thigh high. My gym has a new dry sauna, hot box would this cause me as much swelling as the jacuzzi and steam rooms that I use to enjoy?

    • Hi, my lymphedema therapist tells me not to use any saunas. But we’re in Japan and unlike thought overseas, she does say baths are okay if I don’t stay in them long. I’d think the intense heat of a sauna wouldn’t be a good idea whether dry or wet.

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