Summer is in full swing and children eagerly anticipate a break from school and ample outdoor playtime. However, for transplant recipients, extra precautions are necessary. The sun's rays can be harmful to their skin, so it's important for them to take protective measures like applying sunscreen and seeking shade. Moreover, caution should be exercised when choosing swimming locations. Bodies of water may harbor bacteria that could pose health risks, making it advisable to ask your child's transplant team about lakes and rivers.
The International Immunosuppression & Transplant Skin Cancer Collaborative (ITSCC) has identified additional risk factors for skin cancer, such as thoracic organ transplantation (e.g., heart or lung), prolonged immunosuppression, higher doses of immunosuppressive medication, and certain medications like Voriconazole and Azathioprine. HPV skin infections (common warts) also contribute to increased risk.
However, there is hope. The Society for Pediatric Dermatology offers valuable guides to assist parents and caregivers in ensuring summer safety for their children. These guides cover topics such as protecting a child's skin from the sun and providing self-detection tips for pediatric skin cancer. For those interested in learning more about pediatric transplant dermatology concerns, there is a dedicated session on this topic at the 2022 Pediatric Transplant Conference.
It's important to note that swimming recommendations may vary among medical centers. We strongly advise consulting your transplant team for their specific guidelines. After the first year, chlorinated pools are generally considered acceptable by most institutions, and the ocean is also often deemed safe. However, public hot tubs/spas and stagnant bodies of water, such as lakes, present the highest risk of infection.
With a little extra care, transplant recipients can still enjoy the pleasures of summertime. Remember to cover up, stay hydrated, and follow your medical team's advice regarding swimming locations.