Skin CareAvoid trauma/injury to reduce infection risk

    •    Keep extremity clean and dry

    •    Apply moisturizer daily to prevent chapping/chafing of skin

    •    Attention to nail care; do not cut cuticles

    •    Protect exposed skin with sunscreen and insect repellent

    •    Use care with razors to avoid nicks and skin irritation

    •    If possible, avoid punctures such as injections and blood draws

    •    Wear gloves while doing activities that may cause skin injury (e.g. washing dishes, gardening, working with tools, using chemicals such as detergent)

    •    If scratches/punctures to skin occur, wash with soap and water, apply antibiotics, and observe for signs of infection (i.e. redness)

    •    If a rash, itching, redness, pain, increased skin temperature, increased swelling, fever or flu-like symptoms occur, contact your physician immediately for early treatment of possible infection



    •    Gradually build up the duration and intensity of any activity or exercise

    •    Take frequent rest periods during activity to allow for limb recovery

    •    Monitor the extremity during and after activity for any change in size, shape, tissue, texture, soreness, heaviness or firmness

    •    Maintain optimal weight. Obesity is known to be a major lymphedema risk factor

    Avoid Limb Constriction

    •    If possible, avoid having blood pressure taken on the at-risk extremity, especially repetitive pumping

    •    Wear non-constrictive jewelry and clothing

    •    Avoid carrying a heavy bag or purse over the at risk or lymph edematous extremity


    Compression Garments 

    •    Should be well-fitting

    •    Support the at-risk limb with a compression garment for strenuous activity (i.e. weight, lifting, prolonged standing, and running) except in patients with open wounds or with poor circulation in the at-risk limb

    •    Patients with lymphedema should consider wearing a well-fitting compression garment for air travel. The NLN cannot specifically recommend compression garments for prophylaxis in at-risk patients


    Extremes of Temperature 

    •    Individuals should use common sense and proceed cautiously when using heat therapy. Observe if there is swelling in the at-risk limb or increased swelling in the lymph edematous limb and cease use of heat such as a hot tub or sauna

    •    Avoid exposure to extreme cold, which can be associated with rebound swelling, or chapping of skin

    •    Avoid prolonged (greater than 15 minutes) exposure to heat, particularly hot tubs and saunas

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