3 Tips for Swimming During Your Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 12, 2021

Swimming is a great activity. It is relaxing while also being a great form of exercise. In addition, swimming can help you cool off and enjoy yourself during your breast cancer treatment.

Limit Sun Exposure

Chemotherapy and radiation can make your skin extra-sensitive to sunburns. Try to stay out of the sun for too long, especially from 10 am to 3 pm, when the sun’s rays are brightest. You can always go swimming during that time, but stay in the shade and wear protective equipment.

Always get a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher and reapply it many times. Pay extra attention to the type of sunscreen you get. Avoid fragrances and sunscreens with harsh chemicals. Try to get sunscreens for sensitive skin.

In addition to sunscreen, you should also utilize sun-protective clothing like hats, pants, and long sleeve t-shirts. Staying in the shade as much as possible is also a great option. 

Be Careful About Water

Certain types of water can be more irritating to your skin during radiation or chemotherapy. Water with chlorine can be particularly annoying. Generally, people undergoing cancer treatment are not advised to go into communal baths, hot tubs, or saunas. Certain bacterias grow in hot water that is not safe for people with cancer.

Pick the Right Swimsuit

It can be challenging to feel comfortable in a swimsuit when you are getting radiation or chemotherapy for breast cancer. You may have uncomfortable rashes or swathes of skin that you might not want everyone at the pool to see. This is understandable; however, there are options for people with these needs.

Some swimsuits can conceal your sensitive areas and smooth out your figure. In addition, some swimsuits have pockets and ways to insert various varieties of breast prosthetics in case you have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Speak with your doctor and ask if they know of a specific type of bathing suit suited to women going through radiation.

To Note

Generally, you shouldn’t exercise or use your body too much. Try to stick to lower intensity movement, even in the pool. In addition, it is usually thought that you should keep hard breathing to a minimum.

Additionally, while it is generally safe to swim, there are situations in which it might not be safe. You should discuss swimming with your doctors before you do it. Your body will be quite vulnerable at this time, and you must be mindful of this.

Show Sources

SOURCES: “BathingSuit Tops.”

Roswell Park: “Summertime Tips for Cancer Patients.”

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