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Skin Care

Skin Care
Skin care is important for anyone with or at risk of developing lymphoedema.

Lymphoedema changes the microcirculation of the skin and also changes the protein levels in the fluid of the skin tissues. These changes can have an effect on immune response and the higher protein levels can cause the tissues to become courser and to harden.

This can increase the risk of developing an infection in the skin and make an infection more difficult to treat. Repeated infections and inflammation can cause more fibrosis and hardening of the skin tissues, thus setting up a cycle of worsening lymphoedema.

Good skin care is essential in reducing the risk of developing or when treating lymphoedema.

General Principles of skin care:
  • Wash daily using a pH neutral soap
  • Dry skin thoroughly and gently after washing
  • Ensure any skin folds if present are clean and dry
  • Check skin for any cuts, abrasions or insect bites- if present (and no known allergies )apply an antiseptic product to area such as betadine, or tea-tree oil. Consult your GP if any signs of infection.
  • Use anti fungal agents to prevent and treat fungal infections in the feet if lymphoedema in the legs at risk or present.
  • Apply gentle preferably non perfumed emollients (moisturizers) to the skin daily eg aqueous cream
  • If wearing compression garments apply skin moisturizers on removal of garment rather than before application of garment ( as some products may damage the fabric of the garment)
Useful Links

Best Practice for the Management of Lymphoedema. International Consensus, 2006

Skin care for lymphoedema. Macmillan Cancer Support


Wound Management
Smith & Nephew Advanced wound Management.

World of Wounds 

World Alliance for Wound and Lymphoedema Care

European Wound Management Association


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