Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s doing a yoga class in the park, going for a walk in the woods or relaxing by the pool or lake, there are several ways to enjoy the beautiful weather! That said, during or after breast cancer treatments you can’t forget to take precautions to avoid complications related to the sun and heat.
Why is it important to protect yourself during the summer?
Taking precautions during hot and sunny periods is recommended for everyone, but it becomes even more important during and after breast cancer treatments:
Certain molecules used for breast cancer treatments, especially chemotherapy, make the skin more sensitive to the effects of the sun. In addition, radiation makes the treated area more vulnerable, and this can continue for several months after the treatments have stopped. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy the sun; you just have to protect yourself well.
So how do you protect yourself from the sun?
You’ve probably heard it before: in the summer, you should apply sunscreen and stay hydrated. But that’s not all! There are many other ways to protect yourself from the sun and extreme heat during the summer. These are strongly recommended for people who are currently undergoing treatment or have recently completed it:
- Avoid exposure to the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when its rays are the strongest.
- Check the daily UV index (weather report) and be extra careful when it’s high.
- Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30 about 20 minutes before going out and reapply at least every two hours. Remember to reapply after swimming or sweating. Apply all over, including the head if you have lost your hair.
- Avoid excessive exposure and seek shade.
- Wear clothes that cover you. You can also wear clothing with a UV protection factor.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Apply a lip balm with an SPF.
- Wear sunglasses marked “UV 400” or “100% UV protection.”
- People who have undergone radiation therapy should avoid exposing the irradiated area and seek medical advice before applying creams to the treated area.
- People who suffer from lymphedema should avoid high heat and sunburn on the affected limb.
- Note: sunbathing in a dark bathing suit after prosthetic reconstruction can lead to burns.
What to do during extreme heat ?
While it’s important to be careful about sun exposure during and after breast cancer treatments, it’s also recommended to take extra precautions during periods of extreme heat:
- Seek shade and coolness.
- Drink regularly, especially when sweating, and avoid diuretics (alcohol, caffeine).
- Ask your doctor if you can go swimming to cool down (be careful of unhealed wounds and watch out for chlorine in the pool, which can irritate weakened skin).
- In hot weather, hair prostheses can become difficult to wear; they can be replaced by scarves or head wraps made of natural materials.
With these many ways to protect yourself, you’re finally ready to enjoy summer safely! Note that these measures are complementary; the more of them you apply, the more you’ll lower your chances of complications.
For any questions about the aforementioned measures or for any other questions related to breast cancer, don’t hesitate to speak with your doctor or contact us at 1 855 561-ROSE.