It is very important for Lymphoedema patients to pay special attention to their skincare. Your skin provides a protective barrier against infection by secreting natural oils or sebum, that not only soften skin, but also maintain the pH balance to inhibit bacterial and fungal growth. Skin on swollen limbs, affected by lymphoedema, is stretched and oil secretion is reduced. The skin usually thickens as well as becoming stiffer and less flexible and is more likely to crack. Breaks in the skin’s surface can become an entry point for bacteria and the resulting infection can worsen lymphoedema in the affected part of the body.
Skin affected by lymphoedema can also be dry and rough and needs additional care. Avoid soaps and harsh detergents that can strip skin’s natural oils, and use a natural moisturiser for fast absorption.
Good footcare is essential to avoid complications of Lymphoedema that affects the lower limbs. It is important to protect your feet from unnecessary damage as well as maintaining healthy skin.
1. GENTLE CLEANSING:
• Take short showers and baths and
use warm rather than hot water
• Avoid soaps and washes that contain harsh
detergents that can dry out your skin
• Use a pH balanced cleanser to protect skin’s
natural barrier function
• Pat skin dry with a soft towel, rather than rubbing
2. EFFECTIVE MOISTURISATION:
• Avoid skincare that contains perfumes and colours that may irritate skin
• Moisturise daily to prevent itchy, dry skin as scratching can result in skin infections
3. REDUCE RISK:
• Avoid damaging your skin unnecessarily ~ eg. wet razor, avoid tattoos and body piercing
• Protect your skin by wearing gloves while washing dishes, gardening, etc.
• Don’t allow your skin to get sunburnt – use a high sun protection factor sunscreen
• Treat any burns, cuts and grazes promptly
• Tinea, eczema and dermatitis should be treated promptly and can worsen Lymphoedema