Avoiding Lymphedema or Keeping It in CheckFor the person with lymphedema, skin care is very important. All skin abrasions need to be cleaned and covered immediately to help prevent infection. We recommend keeping alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment and bandages available at all times. Avoid any trauma to the involved limb, including needle sticks or burns. Other recommendations include:
- Avoid temperature extremes such as hot baths, hot tubs and hot showers; Turkish baths or saunas; burns from cooking, smoking or the sun; and travel in hot or cold climates.
- Avoid infections from insect bites; manicures or pedicures; vaccinations, venipunctures or acupunctures in the affected limb; pet scratches; skin punctures and cuts; venography; and lymphography.
- Avoid blunt trauma such as lifting heavy objects; playing golf or tennis; applying a blood pressure cuff to the affected limb; wearing tight clothing, especially breast straps; wearing a heavy breast prosthesis; or wearing rings, watches or bracelets on the affected limb.
- Practice good nutrition. Limit salt and fried foods.
- Avoid alcohol and nicotine as much as possible.
- Maintain a normal weight.
- Keep the affected limb meticulously clean. Be very careful with skin and nail care.
- Sleep with the affected limb elevated.
- Exercise. Try walking, swimming or specially-prescribed exercises.
- Use hypoallergenic soaps and fragrances.
- Seek treatment for even the slightest sign of lymphedema.
- Treat infections vigorously.
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