For mesothelioma patients, warmer weather and sunshine can bring much cherished time outdoors. Whether a picnic or barbecue with family and friends or just a chance to sit in a garden or park, it is a time to enjoy the contentment of being surrounded by nature.
But mesothelioma patients need to take extra precautions when soaking up the sun and have to be extra vigilant about monitoring their sun exposure.
For anyone undergoing cancer treatment, not just mesothelioma patients, too much sun may be unsafe. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, intense sun exposure may further weaken the immune system in a person receiving chemotherapy. It can also lead to more severe skin reactions and increased likelihood of sunburns. People undergoing radiation therapy or just finishing treatment should avoid the sun because skin exposed to radiation therapy is extremely sensitive to the sun’s rays.
Here are some sun safety tips:
- Try to avoid being in the sun between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM.
- Ask your oncologist which sunscreen is best for you. Some sunscreens work better than others, and the chemicals in some sunscreens may be irritating to your already sensitive skin. Make sure you have a fresh bottle of sunscreen. Last year’s may no longer be effective.
- If your skin is very sensitive, you may need to use a sun block instead of or in addition to sunscreen. Sun blocks that are effective include zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
- Don’t rely on sunscreen alone. Wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved clothing to cover sensitive areas of your body.
- Find a place in the shade under a tree or sit under an umbrella.
- Don’t forget your lips. Sunscreens designed especially for the lips are generally safe if you should swallow some following application.
- Wear sunglasses with UV protection to protect your eyes.
- Keep in mind that you may react differently to the sun while going through chemotherapy than you did in the past. Even if you were once someone who tanned easily, you may now sunburn.
- Avoid dehydration. Drink iced fluids, such as ice water, or low-sugar juices, sports drinks, or frozen ice pops, to both quench thirst and cool down.