Heat and wearing your medical compression garment
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Most people with lymphoedema and lipoedema experience an increase in swelling during summertime. This is because heat causes the blood vessels to expand, resulting in an increase of the amount of fluid moving from the blood vessels during diffusion into the tissue. Consequently, a sluggish or already compromised lymphatic system allows more fluid to pool in the tissue.
Many people struggle to wear their compression garments in summer. Should you feel to be at your wits' end with it, hopefully I can help you to navigate this pitfall. Summertime is when you need it most and when you are most at risk to give it up. Wearing your compression garment as soon as possible in the morning and removing it last at night before bed is part of your management program. You cannot change that, and need to find a solution. Let me ask you a few questions and please consider the options:
Is your garment due to be replaced?
Do so at your earliest convenience because the garment elasticity wears off over time allowing more fluid in the tissue.
Have you tried wearing an open-toe stocking?
Should your feet feel warm, the body temperature can increase. An open-toe garment can enable you to wear sandals making you feel cooler and more comfortable.
Have you discussed your options with your therapist or your supplier?
They can assist you with your choice of garment. For example, a no crotch pantyhose or thigh high stockings with the waist attachment is cooler and easier to wear in summer.
A cotton compression garment may be more suitable for you, as it would be more comfortable and softer against your skin allowing your skin to breathe. Wearing cotton or linen clothing can also be aesthetically pleasing, particularly when matching it with the ribbing of your cotton garment. Wear synthetic no more in summer.
Does your compression garment have a silicone border giving you grief? Have you noticed a red ring around your limb? This is what I would call a silicone burn, which can take a few weeks to heal.
To avoid this effect, do not expose your limb and your garment to the sunshine.
Order your garment with a soft border during summertime.
Substitute the thigh high stocking for a stocking with the waist-attachment or the arm sleeve with a shoulder cap.
Other than adapting your compression garment to the season, you need to keep in mind the general advice to avoid or prevent lymphoedema such as:
Stay indoor in the heat of the day.
Stay in an air-conditioning environment.
You may be eligible for a Queensland Government subsidy. Check the following link for eligibility: https://lymph.org.au/qld-government-medical-cooling-heating-electricity-concession-scheme/
Wear your medical compression garment when exercising and exercise in the cool of the day, early morning or late evening. This is relatively easy to implement as we have more light in summer.
Exercise indoor and join a group to walk in shopping centers https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/walking.
Exercise in the pool and dry your limb thoroughly before donning your garment.
Spray your limb lightly with cool water during the day, don’t damp the garment.
Drink plenty of water.
Seek advice from your therapist and stay in therapy.
Keep a cool mind when the weather is hot. Give me a call. I can help you with lymphatic drainage massage, measuring, and guiding you in your choice of medical compression garment and fitting.