Although June 21st is the calendar start of summer, Memorial Day (in America) marks the unofficial start. For the average person, the season means fun, sun and sandals. For those of us with lymphedema, it can mean swelling, sweat, and praying for September to come early.
When you are a lymphie, heat is a four letter word.
Putting on and then wearing thick, tight compression stockings all day, every day is challenging enough. Add eighty-plus-degree-heat and a bucket of humidity, and we are ready to volunteer for the crew of ‘Ultimate Survival Alaska.’
For women (like me) who must wear full-pantyhose compression stockings, the most unpleasant hazard of the summer heat can be yeast infections.
Yeast infections are not listed as a side-effect on stocking product materials. Neither is your regular doctor likely to warn you about them, because (GROAN) the medical profession lacks focus and funding on our field of study.
Yet I assure you, yeast infections and pantyhose compression stockings go hand-in-hand. Yeast thrives in warm, moist places, causing a fungal infection resulting in itching, redness, swelling, burning and a discharge that looks like cottage cheese. Summer fun, it is not.
So what can you do to avoid developing this uncomfortable medical condition on top of an already uncomfortable medical condition?
- Go crotchless.
Victoria isn’t the only one who knows this secret. Some manufacturers, for an extra fee, can remove the crotch from stockings. Juzo offers this as a regular option in their Soft product line. Unless Dr. Ruth is on the board of Juzo, one would surmise there was a medical function to this design.
An open crotch promotes a cool, dry and airy — how shall we say….”environment.” Don’t negate these positive effects by wearing tight pants or synthetic panties. In hot and humid weather, skirts and cotton panties (or none!) are the way to go. In addition, be sure to change out of wet swimsuits and gym clothes immediately after a workout.
Beware that when it comes to crotchless, less costs more. Removing that piece of fabric increases Juzo’s price by about 20% ($134.39 vs. $111.99 through BrightLife Direct). For me, it has been well worth the expense to avoid the physical discomfort, medical bills and time off for doctor visits that comes with a yeast infection.
My stocking budget and I “chill out” during the winter months, when I keep the crotch in-tact. Nobody needs an open anything when the polar vortex sets in.
Before making any stockings alterations, I recommend consulting your physician or lymphedema specialist.
In addition to going crotchless, here are a few tips to prevent (and help cure) yeast infections and support a healthy immune system as well:
- Go Probiotic.
Probiotics are good bacteria naturally found in the body and in some foods. Here are examples of probiotic foods (in order from appealing to wouldn’t-touch-it-with-my-spoon): dark chocolate, cheese, live-cultured yogurt, raw green peas, miso, unpastuerized sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi.
If you cannot tolerate dairy, or perhaps even the site of some of the foods on this list, then consider a probiotic supplement. The brand choices are many. My gynecologist recommends choosing a brand that must be refrigerated, even though they tend to be more expensive than the brands that don’t require refrigeration.
I take one pill a day of Ultimate Flora, 50 billion live cultures.
- An apple a day.
Apple cider vinegar, that is. Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is a wonder. Not only can ACV disinfect your countertops, clear up your acne and get rid of bad breath, it can also restore healthy pH levels in the vagina. I keep a case at home!
ACV is the vinegar that comes from the fermentation of apples. Raw, organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV that contains the “Mother” is preferred.
It can be taken orally or applied topically.
To prevent and cure yeast infections:
Drink 1-2 tablespoons of ACV diluted in 16 oz. of lukewarm water every day. If you are trying to cure a yeast infection, do not add sugar or honey, because yeast fungus feeds off sugar.
Manage your expectations, when it comes to how ACV tastes. Remember, this is for medicinal purposes. Just get it down. Use a straw, if that helps.
To cure yeast infection (in conjunction with treatment from your doctor):
ACV Wash – Soak a clean cloth in ACV and place the cloth on the walls of the vagina, testing a small area first whether it burns or not. If so, dilute equal parts ACV and water. Repeat application regularly.
ACV Bath – Add two cups ACV to a warm, shallow bath. Soak your vagina for 15 minutes. Be sure to dry yourself completely before getting dressed.
Before incorporating ACV into your diet or trying it topically, consult your doctor.
For us, summer can be challenging. Fortunately, some of our discomfort can be minimized. Or even stopped cold.