Keeping safe in the sun
25th May 2017
It’s shaping up to be a scorcher this weekend, so we asked Clinical Nurse Specialist Jodie Nightingill for a few tips to help you enjoy the sunshine without putting yourself at risk
Protecting your skin from the sun is always important – but if you're having treatment for blood cancer, or you've finished treatment in the last few years, it's a must.
Treatments such as chemotherapy and biological therapies can make your skin more sensitive to damage from the sun, while treatments like radiotherapy and stem cell transplants can make keeping safe in the sun even more challenging. For example, if you’ve had a stem cell transplant using donor cells (an allogeneic transplant), being out in the sun without the right protection can increase your risk of graft-versus-host disease – where your immune system attacks your donor’s stem cells.
But there are plenty of ways to protect yourself while making the most of the warmer weather. You should always speak to your medical team or clinical nurse specialist for advice, but remembering these tops tips can also help you enjoy sunny days safely:
1. Avoid the hottest part of the day
The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, so try to avoid the sun and stick to the shade at these times. It might be useful to listen to the weather reports on the TV or radio, or check the MetOffice website at for your local forecast.
2. Remember your hat
3. Protect your eyes
When the sun is out make sure that you wear sunglasses – ideally ones that come with a guaranteed ultraviolet filter.
4. Wear roomy clothes
Wearing loose-fitting clothing made from cotton or natural fibres will give you extra protection from the sun.
5. Using the right suncream
Select a sun cream with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 and with protection from UVA/UVB rays. Whether in lotion, spray or gel form make sure that you apply it as recommended, and reapply after swimming or exercising heavily (which will make you sweat). If you need to use insect repellent cream then apply this after your sun cream.
6. Keep hydrated
Drink plenty of water and avoid too much caffeine (tea, coffee) or alcohol.
7. Get advice before you swim
Some treatments, like radiotherapy, can make skin more sensitive to chemicals like chlorine, so you may need to avoid swimming in chlorinated water (for example, your local swimming pool). You can ask your medical team or clinical nurse specialist for more advice about this.
8. Take a break
Remember to take time out of the sun and enjoy the shaded areas too!
For more general information and advice, take a look at Public Health England’s fact sheet > Beat the heat: staying safe in hot weather.
Disclaimer: The information above includes general tips for people with blood cancer. For more personal advice relating to you and your condition, please speak to your healthcare team.