Warm weather is finally here, and that also means that hot, and often humid, weather isn’t far behind. As the temperature rises, it becomes harder to keep cool — which can lead to increased swelling. The following tips will help to keep your lymphedema in check all summer long!
Stay hydrated. In the summer especially, it is essential to drink enough water. Drinking to thirst is a standard guideline, but if you struggle and need a real number, then it is a good idea to drink half of your body weight (in pounds) in ounces of water. For example, if you're 180lbs, then drinking 90oz of water should keep your thirst at bay. When trying to staying hydrated it is essential to remember that both caffeine, alcohol, and salty foods are dehydrating, so if you're drinking coffee, having a glass of wine, or enjoying some salted pretzels, be sure to pay attention to your body and drink an extra cup of water.
To make drinking water a little bit less boring, try infusing your water with fruit or mint. Some of our favorite infused water combinations are:
Cucumber + Mint + Water
Strawberry + Lemon + Water
Blackberry + Basil + Water
The combinations are endless, mix up a big pitcher of infused water in the morning and sip on it throughout the day.
Another great way to stay hydrated is to drink caffeine-free herbal tea, it counts toward your water intake and it easy to enjoy hot or iced.
Avoid sunburn. If you're planning on spending time outdoors, whether you're in the direct sun or not, be sure to use sun protection on your affected limb. There are many ways to guard yourself against the sun, the most common method is to apply sunblock. Whether you choose a physical or chemical sunscreen, it is important to remember that sunblock typically needs to be reapplied every few hours to remain effective in blocking out those damaging rays.
Avoid constrictive clothing. It is, unfortunately, true that your lymphedema swelling may become exacerbated by the heat, but how you handle it can make a world of difference between persistent, debilitating swelling and a manageable flare-up. Keeping that fact in mind, if you know that you'll be spending time in the heat, try to wear loose, flowy clothing and avoid constrictions from bags and jewelry. Not having your clothing or jewelry act as a tourniquet during a potential flare-up can reduce the amount of fluid that gets trapped and the extent of the swelling.
Avoid bug bites. Insects are part of the summer experience and while no one says "I sure hope I get bit by a mosquito" keeping bug bites at bay isn't always the top priority during summertime fun. But when you have lymphedema or are at-risk, a bug bite can be severe. Any puncture to the affected limb can trigger a lymphedema flare-up or a cellulitis infection. The first step to reducing your chances of getting a bug bite is by using bug spray and if possible atmospheric repellants such as a citronella candle or tiki torch. However, if you do get bitten by a bug, do not threat, treat the bug bite as quickly as possible with a topical antibacterial cream and apply an adhesive bandage.
Wear a graduated compression garment. Wearing a compression garment during summer time activities can help to control swelling. Excess moisture that is trapped between the skin and compression garments can promote bacterial growth and may risk infection. Wearing a compression garment with moisture wicking and breathability can reduce any moisture build up. If you're rocking a LympheDIVAs arm sleeve, then we've got you covered! All of our garments feature moisture wicking and a breathable knit. Instead of trapping sweat and excess moisture between your arm and the sleeve, our sleeves help the moisture evaporate out through our breathable knit so even on the muggiest days your arm stays cool and your lymphedema stays in check.