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Lymphoedema Summers

Selfcare tips for staying cool in summer provided by L-W-O Community serve as guidelines, you should always consult your Health Care Professional (HCP) or Lymphoedema Specialist.

 

Living with lymphoedema you might find your affected limb(s) swell more in the summer months, or when you are on holiday because of heat oedema, this is because blood vessels expand with the heat so that the amount of fluid that travels from the blood vessel into the tissue increases swelling. 

 

Do not get to upset as the swelling will go down when the temperatures go down.

Do spend as much time as you can in the fresh air but find some shade and remember to stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Increased swelling, prickly heat, hives, insect bites, and stings are far more likely to happen when the sun is out, or you are on holiday.  Good skin care is essential make sure you use plenty of sun cream.  The clothes you wear including your underwear should not leave indentations.  Underwear that is normally well fitting might feel tighter if your body swells from the heat.

 

Remember your skin can burn through clothes

 

However, hard it might be, please wear your compression garment. Wash your compression regularly as body oils, sunscreen and sweat may hasten the deterioration of your garment.  Please remember you can get bitten through your compression.  Always have a mini first aid kit handy that includes antiseptic cream, antiseptic wipes, insect repellent and antihistamines.  Bites or stings treat immediately.   Keep a spare top or item of clothing in a plastic bag in the fridge for a quick change and cool down.

As temperatures rise, please make sure you drink plenty of water keep yourself hydrated, avoid fizzy drinks, caffeine drinks and alcohol as they tend to increase swelling. Always apply sensible precautions. Eat frequent, modest meals and avoid salty snacks in favour of crunchy ones. Finally, having an oven-free day is my favourite advice for a sweltering day.

Hydration

 

If you feel thirsty you have already started to dehydrate. This dehydration can cause an increase in thirst, a decrease in urine frequency, a dry mouth and tongue. You may lose large amounts of fluids and essential minerals such as salt and potassium during hot weather. In addition, you may also experience disorientation, and light-headedness.

 

The best course of action in this situation is to go somewhere cool and drink something, preferably water, not alcohol. Water is essential for regulating body temperature and biological functions.

Cucumber, lettuce, strawberries and watermelon have a high water content, so they can help towards keeping your hydrated.

 

Warning: Severe conditions require immediate medical attention, including intravenous fluids.

Dehydration, what to look for

 

Try not to wait until you are thirsty to drink, it means you are already starting to dehydrate.  Start your day with a glass of water.  Sugary/fizzy drinks make you thirstier and may increase your swelling.  

Alcohol dehydrates your body.

Bee on a Daisy

Stings or bites

Remember you can get bitten through compression or clothing

 

From time to time we all experience insect bites or stings, but for someone who lives with lymphoedema being bitten may become a severe problem.  This could cause an increase in swelling which hopefully will only be short lived.  Watch for the signs of infection especially for those that experience cellulitis.  Check your skin daily and treat any bites immediately.  If you experience swelling, feel unwell, run a temperature seek medical help as you may need antibiotics.

  • Wear an insect repellent especially if you are susceptible to being bitten

  • Wash the area of the bite or sting

  • Gently pat dry

  • Use an antiseptic

  • Do not scratch

  • Place a cold compress on the affected area (might ease itching)

  • Drink plenty of water, to help eliminate toxins from your body

  • Going on holiday or even a day out? Put together a first aid kit for emergencies

It may be wise to take antihistamines but do ask advice from your health-care provider.

Ask advice from your pharmacist.

Image showings stings and bites on elevated legs
Blue Water

Tips at a glance

Staying Cool

 

  • Avoid sun between 11 am and 3 pm

  • Stay hydrated this helps the body to regulate its temperature

  • Wear light, loose clothing, not only keeps you cool but won't restrict lymph flow

  • Elevate limbs 

  • Carry a small spray bottle of water for quick cool downs

  • Keep a top in freezer bag in the fridge for a cool change

  • Place cold wet towels over limb for quick cool down

  • Most homes in the UK do not have air conditioning so closing the curtains is one way to reduce the greenhouse effect or...

  • Create a cross breeze by leaving doors/windows at opposite ends of room open

  • Adjust ceiling fans to spin counter-clockwise in summer and clockwise in winter

  • Switch off all appliances not in use to stop them overheating, to prevent adding heat to a room

  • Houseplants are natural air conditioners

  • When you are out and about try and find somewhere that is cool or has shade

  • Keep up your regular #getmoving routine but try to schedule for the cooler hours of the day e.g. early morning or evenings

Sunburn

 

  • Wear your compression garment

  • Remember you can get sun burn through you compression

  • Remember you can get sunburn through your clothes

  • Wear a minimum of 30 - 50 SPF sunscreen

  • Remember to top up sunscreen

  • Avoid sunburn as this will place additional demands on your lymphatic system and increase swelling

  • Protect your feet as they can burn and blister easily

  • Powder inside shoes with antifungal powder to prevent fungal infections 

  • If you have had radiotherapy treatment, make sure you protect the treated area

Swimming

 

  • Compression garments - wear an old one to swim in

  • Check before you swim that you have no breaks in your skin that put you at risk of infection

  • Take a shower after swimming to wash off chlorine/salt 

  • Thoroughly towel dry,  pay particular attention to between the toes and skin folds 

  • Moisturise your skin 

  • Chlorine can dry your skin and may cause a breakage allowing bacteria to enter and cause infection

  • Wear footwear at all times around the pool to prevent fungal infections including when you are in the shower area

  • Open water or swimming in the sea, wear water shoes to avoid cutting your feet on shells or stones

  • Remember sensible precautions - swimming is a great way to #getmoving and keep your lymph flowing

 

Before you go.  Do you like what you see?  L-W-O Community receives no official funding, and we rely on the goodwill of our readers.  Please consider taking a yearly subscription so that we can continue to provide information for those that live with lymphoedema.  Find details here...

Be Aware During a Heatwave

 

Take preventative measures against heat-related illness. Illnesses caused by heatwaves may result in respiratory and cardiovascular complications. Heat can promote dehydration and hinder the brain's ability to get enough blood. This may result in dizziness and fainting.

How can we describe the information provided by the government and the media about an imminent heatwave:

 

Heatwave - A meteorological word used to provide journalists and the public with consistent and trustworthy communications.

Excessive Heatwave - A warning that emphasises the potential repercussions of intense heat to safeguard lives and property, enabling individuals to make safer options.

Heat Health Alert - It is a service unique to England that assesses the effect of prolonged extreme heat on public health, particularly for those of us who live with chronic health conditions.

Heat cramps – caused by dehydration and loss of electrolytes, may occur after physical activity.

Heat oedema – occurs mostly in the ankles, due to vasodilation and retention of fluid.

Heat rash - small, raised spots, itchy prickly feeling and may include mild swelling.

 

Heat syncope – due to dehydration can lead to dizziness and fainting

 

The symptom that is most prevalent is heat exhaustion. The symptoms of exposure to heat, dehydration, and salt deficiency are malaise and vomiting with a fever between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius. Heat stroke may result from the body's incapacity to regulate high temperatures.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when the body's temperature rises too high and cannot regulate itself. Core body temperature exceeds 40 Celsius and needs to be treated immediately.

Symptoms include:

  • Confusion

  • Convulsions

  • Dizziness

  • Disorientation

  • Fainting

  • Headaches

  • Hot dry skin

  • Unconsciousness

The treatment comprises rest in a tranquil environment, drinks, and electrolyte replenishment. When body temperature exceeds 37°C, confusion and, in rare situations, unconsciousness, a visit to A&E is required.

Alt text: An infographic titled “Stay cool. Drink plenty of water and avoid carbonated drinks, tea and alcohol which may aggravate swelling. Clothing should be lightweight and indoors, find a cool place.” The image features various tips for managing lymphoedema during summer with corresponding illustrations. Tips include wearing sunscreen SPF 30-50, avoiding the sun between 11 am - 3 pm, finding a shady spot, wearing a hat, carrying water, using small sprays for quick cooling down, placing clothes in the fridge for cool comfort, and having oven-free days. The background is yellow with blue side panels containing additional text about protecting skin and wearing appropriate clothing. The logo at the bottom reads “LWO Community” with the website link lwocommunity.co.uk/lymphoedema-summers.

Continual Professional Development(CPD)

I strongly believe in Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Since starting L-W-O Community, I've attended many courses to enhance my knowledge and skills, ensuring that when I write or create graphics or short videos, they are supported not only by my own experience with lymphoedema, but also by the lessons I've learnt from the courses I've taken.

CPD Certificate: How to stay safe and healthy during a heat wave.

Page first created 22/05/2020

Last update 19/06/2024

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