We all look forward to the warm days of summer, but sometimes those days can get a bit too warm! When you are on dialysis, drinking more is not the best way to stay cool.

Check out these ideas which might work for you to help keep you cool:

  • Try freezing berries or grapes for a cold, refreshing snack
  • Sip your beverages slowly. Sipping will let you savour the liquid longer
  • Use small cups or glasses for your beverages
  • Freeze your water in an ice cube tray
  • Wet and freeze washcloths to put on your neck to keep you cool
  • Place a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help cool the air
  • Go somewhere with air conditioning - e.g. a restaurant, shopping centre, community centre or cinema
  • To help control your thirst, limit the amount of salty foods you eat
  • Try drinking cold liquids instead of hot ones
  • Snack on low-potassium vegetables and fruits that are ice cold, like chilled sliced pears, apples, grapes or strawberries
  • Wear a hat when you have to go out in the sun
  • Wear loose and light cotton clothing

If you are transplanted

The anti-rejection drugs you take to prevent your body from rejecting your kidney transplant do so by suppressing your immune system. Your immune system is designed to fight infection but it also detects and destroys cells that can become cancerous. This means that your drugs can increase the chances of getting some sorts of cancers, including skin cancer. Sun and transplant drugs are a bad combination.

Staying out of the sun

  • Do not get sunburn
  • Do not "try to get a tan"
  • Never use a sunbed

The important message for all transplant patients during the summer months is "avoid the sun and you can avoid skin cancer."

  • Using sun cream is essential. The effectiveness of sun cream is rated by an SPF (sun protective factor) number. The number indicates how long you can stay in the sun before your skin burns. For example, if your skin would normally burn after 10 minutes, an SPF of 15 means that you can stay in the sun fifteen times longer before burning than if you had not applied sun cream. However, this information is supplied to the general public and because some transplant medication makes the skin extra sensitive to the sun, all transplant patients are advised to use an SPF factor of 50.

Other simple ways to avoid exposure to the harmful rays of the sun:

  • Protect your skin with suitable clothing. Clothing offers the advantages of even, non-sticky protection that you don't have to remember to reapply.
  • Wear a hat, preferably one with a brim
  • Wear long sleeves rather than short sleeves

Even in the shade you are prone to sun damage

Check your skin regularly

  • Once a month look closely at your skin. Use a mirror to look at your back, or get someone else to help you.
  • You may notice a variety of spots, we all have them. Most are not serious at all.
  • If one spot looks different from the others or you have concerns that it is growing, speak to your doctor about it. Discuss it when you next attend a transplant clinic or contact your GP.

Skin infections - A fungal infection is common for patients. Look out for pale or dark patches or rather liverish-looking spots. It is easily treated so contact your health professional.

Warts - Common warts are often seen in transplant patients but take longer to disappear due to the reduced immune system. Early treatment is worthwhile, if in doubt seek medical advice.

Moles - These are easily recognisable and could be potentially dangerous. If in doubt seek medical advice.

Should you have any doubts about your skin condition, please consult your healthcare professionals immediately.

The NKF cannot accept responsibility for information provided. The above is guidance only. Patients are advised to seek further information from their doctors.