Prosthetic devices (or prostheses) play a vital role in a person’s life as an amputee. A new prosthetic limb can require an adjustment period, and it's important to know how to take an offensive stance to help ward off irritation—chafing, dermatitis, and rashes are just some of the issues you may encounter when wearing a new prosthesis. Here are 5 tips that may help you limit skin irritation as you ease into a new prosthesis and ensure comfortable use.
1. A Properly Aligned Prosthesis
Dr. Dani Burt, PT, DPT is a World Adaptive Surfing Champion, Doctor of Physical Therapy, First Known Female Above Knee Amputee Surfer, and renowned speaker whose mission is "to advocate for equality in adaptive surfing". Dani gives advice on her YouTube channel, Amputee Tips, on how to properly align your prosthesis (for an above-knee amputation).
If your prosthetic leg is misaligned, because your limb has changed as you've settled into your new socket or your prosthesis is a work in progress, chafing and pressure can easily occur. For instance, if your foot is too far inset, you may experience rubbing along your fibula head (outside bone); if your socket is too flexed, you may experience chafing and pressure against your distal tibia. Aligning your prosthesis properly may seem like a simple measure but is an effective one that helps prevent irritation.
2. Add a Prosthetic Sheath Against Your Skin
Your prosthesis rubbing against your skin can cause plenty of discomfort and to prevent further irritation, add a prosthetic sheath to create a slick barrier between your limb and prosthesis. Sheaths can also wick perspiration away, which can further reduce the chances of a blister forming.
3. Apply a Chafing Cream
Heat and humidity may also contribute to skin irritation, as well as trigger or worsen skin allergies. Apply a non-greasy chafing cream to increase your comfort level and prevent skin irritation. It helps to purchase a chafing cream that's available in travel-friendly sizes so you can take them with you to provide relief whenever you need it.
4. Use a Targeted Treatment in Advance
Prevention is better than cure—get familiar with your trouble spots in advance and opt for a targeted treatment such as a tamarack glidewear patch. These liner patches are incredible at absorbing friction and shear stresses inside your socket. Reusable glidewear liner patches are worth the investment as they don't require you to keep repurchasing when you need them. Machine or hand wash your liner patches regularly to keep them clean at all times and ready for use.
5. Treat with a Salve or Balm if Chafing Has Occurred
If you're currently experiencing chafing, salves or balms can help speed up recovery if the damage has already been done. They tend to remain on the skin longer to provide relief from continued trauma.
Remember to clean any affected areas with a mild cleanser and then apply a second skin dressing kit to protect your damaged skin.
Follow these 5 tips to help ensure you maximize your prosthesis and limit skin irritation. It always a great idea to consult your Prosthetist for further support and proper medical instructions that you may need to ensure comfortable use.
How do you limit skin issues when you take delivery of a new prosthesis? Leave a comment below.