Limb and Skin Care Tips for Amputees
As an amputee, you know that proper limb care is essential for maintaining healthy skin and preventing debilitating wounds. What starts out as a simple red patch, if not treated, can become a pressure ulcer that keeps you out of your prosthesis for weeks. Don’t let that happen to you. Use these tips to catch potential problems early on and nip them in the bud.
- Check your skin daily. Use a mirror to get a good look from all angles. If you see any spots that are turning colors (red, purple, blue), swelling, or look callused or cracked, take action. Notify a healthcare provider immediately and keep a very close eye on those spots. Don’t wait to see what happens. A seemingly simple red spot can quickly turn into skin breakdown or an ulcer.
- If you notice skin breakdown, call your doctor or prosthetist immediately. Stop using your prosthesis for now. If your skin breaks down further, it can turn into a pressure ulcer, which can take weeks to heal. If you develop a pressure ulcer, you won’t be able to use your prosthesis until it’s healed completely.
- Wash your limb daily and allow it to dry completely. Moisture trapped between your limb and your prosthesis can lead to fungal growth, infection, and even skin breakdown and ulcers.
- Prevent rubbing and skin breakdown where your prosthesis or liner touches your skin. GlideWear has developed a patented technology to prevent the pain and friction that can lead to pressure sores for amputees:
· Above-Knee (Trans-femoral) Amputees: GlideWear Prosthetic Brim Sheath
· Below-Knee (Trans-tibial) Amputees: GlideWear Prosthetic Liner Patch
· Trans-metatarsal Amputees: GlideWear Transmet Protection Socks
- Use sunscreen outside. If you remove your prosthesis when you’re outside, make sure to apply sunscreen to your limb. Your limb usually isn’t exposed to the sun, so it will be susceptible to sunburn.
- Avoid lotions and alcohol-based products. Unless directed by a physician, don’t apply alcohol (which can dry out skin) or lotion (which can add too much moisture) to your limb. One exception is sunblock, which you should be sure to clean off thoroughly before putting your prosthesis back on.
- Follow care instructions for liners, socks, and other products you use. It’s essential to keep these items clean because any dirt in them can rub your limb and, ultimately, cause painful sores.
- Make sure your socket fits. If your socket doesn’t feel right, trust your gut and call your prosthetist. An ill-fitting socket can lead to pain and pressure sores that just get worse with time.
Skin breakdown and pressure ulcers are very real problems for many amputees. Pressure sores are painful, inconvenient, and can mean months without your prosthesis. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to protect your limb and significantly decrease your risk of developing a pressure sore.