It may not seem like it, but each part of your prosthetic skin care routine is essential to the health of your skin, and to its ability to deal with the daily stresses that a prosthesis can cause. Not only does the skin on your limb need gentle cleansing, it also needs a daily dose of moisturizing. Making moisturizing a part of your regular skin care routine will help prevent dryness and chafing, reduce discomfort caused by skin drawn tightly over the bones, and keep your skin healthy and resilient.
What does a prosthetic moisturizer do?
Each time you cleanse your skin, some of its natural oils are also stripped away, even when you use a mild cleanser (and you should!). Those oils are a necessary protective barrier for your skin, so using prosthetic moisturizer is like applying a layer of armor to your limb before putting on your prosthetic socket. Using a prosthetic moisturizer makes your skin stronger by giving any damaged cells a chance to repair themselves, which will make it less likely that you'll develop sores or abrasions. They also have the power to heal skin that's already dry or cracked.
Prosthetic moisturizers don’t actually add moisture to the skin, but they contain ingredients that do. The humectants in moisturizers increase the water content of the outer layers of skin by trapping existing moisture and attracting more; ingredients called emollients fill in any spaces or gaps where moisturizing lipids should be; occlusive ingredients seal moisture in the skin; and ceramides replenish, decreasing the likelihood of damage and dryness.
How often should I moisturize?
You should moisturize your limb each day after cleansing and more often if your skin is particularly dry or sensitive. Redness, flaking skin, itchiness, chapping, and cracking are all signs you need to moisturize more often!
However, it's best to avoid moisturizing your residual limb immediately before applying the prosthesis. The best time of the day to use moisturizing lotion is at night before bedtime.
Each night before bed, gently massage your residual limb with a nourishing prosthetic cream or lotion. Remember to give some extra attention to the areas along the back of your limb, inside thigh for above knee users and where a roll-on liner or sleeve ends on your thigh.
Which prosthetic moisturizer is right for me?
In order to pick the right products for your skin care routine, you have to get into the habit of reading the label. Many creams, lotions, and moisturizers are available for sale at drug stores, but not all are right for use on your limb. Most were not formulated for use within the harsh environment of a prosthetic socket. Many over the counter moisturizing products include a lanolin base (may be too much for sensitive skin), perfumes or dyes (common irritants), or urea and lactic acid (alpha-hydroxy acid -- another potential irritant, especially for diabetic skin). In addition, learn <which kind of moisturizer is the best for your skin type in order to give your skin the TLC it needs.
Is it time to change to a prosthetic moisturizer?
Unlike your typical drug store products, a prosthetic moisturizer will be specially formulated for an amputee's skin and skin care needs. Prosthetic moisturizers are free of dyes and fragrance, hypoallergenic, pH balanced, and safe for use with prosthetic silicone liners and suspension sleeves (check the manufacturer instructions).
Prosthetic moisturizers are a part of your daily skin care routine that you can't afford to skip. Choose a product formulated for amputees and designed to be used with your skin type, then use it generously to avoid sores and abrasions and to cultivate stronger, healthier skin.