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Stay Out of HOT WATER!


Hot water causes vasodilation, which is the expansion of the blood vessels. This expansion increases the amount of fluid that moves out of the blood vessels and into the tissues. In areas affected by lymphedema this causes increased swelling.To avoid this problem there are some activities that should be avoided, or approached very cautiously. The following suggestions can help you enjoy water activities without causing your lymphedema swelling to become worse.

For more specific details, read the article Water Exercises for Lymphedema.


  • Before undertaking these activities, check with your physician to determine if they are safe for you. At best, it is wise to limit your exposure to these activities to less than 15 MINUTES.
  • The use of a steam room and/or a sauna can cause you to sweat by increasing your core body temperature. This makes your body temperature higher and the lymphedema swelling even worse.
  • If even minimal exposure increases your swelling, do not use the steam room or sauna again.


  • Many people enjoy soaking in a hot tub; however, it too raises the body temperature and can increase the swelling of lymphedema.
  • For those who are at risk of developing lymphedema, but do not yet have symptoms, soaking in a hot tub could cause the  development of lymphedema.
  • The factory setting for most hot tubs is 104 degrees Fahrenheit; however most Health Departments recommend that a hot tub temperature should never be set above 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius).

For those with lymphedema, or at risk of developing it, the following precautions are recommended.

  • Be certain that the tub is clean and properly maintained with anti-bacterial agents such as bromines.  This is important because hot water harbors bacteria and, even a minor break in the skin, may start a cellulitis infection. 
  • Never soak in a hot tub that has a strong chlorine smell, or foam or scum floating on the surface. These are indications that the chemicals are not properly balanced and are not be capable of controlling the bacteria in the water.
  • Place your plastic drink bottle within easy reach from the hot tub.Take frequent sips of water to remain hydrated.
  • Avoid placing (or soaking) the affected, or at risk limb, in water temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius). Above this temperature can cause swelling of the affected limb.
  • Do NOT stay in the hot tub for more than 15 minutes.
  • When trying a hot tub, pay close attention to how you are feeling. When you begin to feel really warm, get out of the water immediately.
  • Limit drinking alcohol while in the hot tub. Instead drink plenty of water so you are well hydrated.


For many a long soak in the bath tub, perhaps with fragrant bubbles, is a special relaxing pleasure; however if you have lymphedema, it is best to limit your soaking time to no more than 15 minutes with the water temperature at no more than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius). 


Swimming is a great form of water exercise.

Swimming is excellent exercise for those with lymphedema; however, here too caution must also be used about water temperatures.

  • Gentle exercises are usually done in water that is 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius) or slightly less.
  • Strenuous exercises, such as swimming laps should be performed in much cooler water, usually between 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius).
  • For more suggestions, read the article Water Exercises for Lymphedema.


@LymphNotes.com 2014.This information does not replace the advice of a qualified health care professional.  

Got a question or comment? Post in the 'Living With Lymphedema' forum.
Category: Living With Lymphedema Updated: 2014-10-14


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