The DO's and DONT's of Skin Care
If you want to keep the skin of your residual limb clean and healthy follow these simple guidelines.
DO have a regular skincare routine. Making it a habit to cleanse and moisturize daily with the right combo of prosthetic products will ensure that the skin of your limb stays healthy. Find out which products for amputees work best together, how they benefit you, and the right way to use them.
DO cleanse daily. The skin of your residual limb should be cleaned each day at night with a mild, non-drying cleanser, preferably fragrance-free or antibacterial. (If you wash in the morning damp skin may swell inside the socket, causing discomfort.) But DON'T use water that is too hot or too cold, because extreme temperatures can irritate sensitive skin. Make sure to rinse away all traces of soap with clean, warm water. A soapy film left on the skin may also cause prosthetic problems later.
DO moisturize when your skin is at risk of cracking or peeling. Prosthetic lotions and moisturizers are best applied at night or at another time when you won't be wearing your prosthesis, and should never be applied to an open area of the skin. Vaseline or petroleum-based lotions degrade some types of prosthetic liners, so ask your prosthetist before adding any lotion or moisturizing product to your skin care routine.
DON'T shave your residual limb (or use chemical hair removers). When a prosthetic socket rubs against stubble it can cause the hair to grow inward, which can be painful, or lead to infection. Drawing salves like ichthammol can help by drawing infection and ingrown hairs out of the skin, but it's best to avoid the ingrown hairs in the first place.
DO clean your prosthetic socket often. Especially in warm weather, the socket should be cleaned daily to prevent dried perspiration or dirt from accumulating on the inner surface. After wiping it out with a damp cloth, make sure to dry it thoroughly before putting it back on.
DO eat well and stay hydrated. Just like the rest of your body, your skin needs water to stay hydrated and flush out impurities. Maintaining a stable body weight through healthy eating and staying hydrated is the best way to make sure your prosthesis continues to fit.
DO wear an prosthetic interface that fits your body. Discomfort and skin breakdown are often the first sign that your prosthesis needs an adjustment. It's important to have an interface--socket, liner or sock count--that fits well to start, but you can also improve the fit by using various gel products and a prosthetic sock, by changing your liner or sock to a thicker or thinner model, or by adding or removing lightweight-ply socks. Even with a good fit, problems can occur as your stump changes in shape and size throughout the day. If the fit of your interface changes too often, see a Prosthetist ASAP to have it adjusted.
DON'T ignore a problem. Regularly inspecting your residual limb will help you identify any skin problems early. Watch out for any signs of skin irritation, like blisters or red marks that don't fade within 10 minutes of removing your prosthesis. Report anything unusual to your prosthetist so you can begin treating the issue as soon as possible. It always a good idea to document your discomfort, for example writing down the day your bister first appeared or taking a daily photo of your blister.
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