Because lymphedema can be caused by many different factors, each person with lymphedema, or those who are at risk of developing lymphedema, are advised to consider what is relevant to them as an individual. before you travel, talk with your healthcare professional. they will provide advice and help you decide what precautions may be needed for you to make the most of your travels and to help make them as stress free as possible. It is important to carry on with your normal routine for managing your lymphedema, but there are other general things that you need to be mindful of when travelling too.
Vaccinations: Do you need to have any vaccinations for your destination before you travel? If you do, try to avoid having them in your affected limb and if several are needed, try and space them out over the weeks leading up to your holiday.
Prescription drugs: If you are taking any prescription drugs with you, make sure you have enough to last. You may also need to take an accompanying letter from your Healthcare Professional or take a copy of your prescription.
Essential items: Gather all the essential items that you may need to take care of your condition and pack them, so they are ready to take with you.
Consider the following:
- Antibiotics: Your healthcare professional may be willing to prescribe antibiotics for you to take on holiday in case an infection develops whilst you are travelling. They may be especially willing if you have had an infection (cellulitis) before.
- Signs of infection: If you do cut or scratch yourself or develop an infection, treat the area with antiseptic and seek medical advice immediately. If you have antibiotics with you, start taking them at the first sign of an infection. Signs may include redness, soreness, heat in the affected area, increased swelling, tiredness and ‘flu-like’ symptoms.
- Insect repellent: Pack an insect/mosquito repellent or spray. Some of the advice recommends insect repellent that contains at least 50% deet, an active ingredient in insect repellent. Your pharmacist can advise you which might be best for you, or you may already know one that works for you
- Feet: Pack antifungal powder in case you develop athletes’ foot. Tea tree oil can also be used as an alternative. Waterproof sandals and/or flip-flops to wear when by the pool and/or on the beach to protect your feet from injury and infection
- Antiseptic cream: Take an antiseptic cream to use on cuts, scratches and bites. Be vigilant in using the cream regularly if this is on the area where your swelling.
- First aid products: Pack first aid dressings and antiseptic wipes. Consider using a dressing which has antiseptic fabric incorporated into the product. If you are flying, carry some first aid products in your hand luggage in case your checked luggage is misplaced or delayed.
- Sun protection: Pack sunblock (spf 15 or higher). Apply before going into the sun. If you are skiing, use sunblock too! Pack after-sun and/or moisturizer. Long-sleeved shirts and light, loose-fitting trousers are helpful.
- Activities: If you are planning a more active holiday, talk to your healthcare professional. They can advise on how to plan your trip and which activities they recommend you do not participate in, so you do not put too much stress on the affected area.
- Keep hydrated: Pack a water bottle.
If you have any travel tips or a check list that you find useful, share with others on the forum!
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