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!
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.