quarter, we will bring you information and support on living with a prosthetic
device. In this issue: Skin Care. CARING FOR YOUR SKIN
by Paddy Rossbach, RN, former ACA President & CEO
-from "First Step, A
Guide for Adapting to Limb Loss," a publication of the Amputee Coalition of America
Daily inspection of and care for the skin on your
residual limb is essential for success with your prosthesis. Minor cuts,
blisters and rashes can quickly become more than an annoyance if they limit
your wearing of your prosthesis. Daily Skin Care
1. Every day, or more often if necessary, wash your residual
limb with a mild or antibacterial soap and lukewarm water. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove
2. Dry your skin by patting it with a towel. Be sure your
residual limb is completely dry before putting on your prosthesis. Allowing 15
minutes of air-drying before applying your prosthesis should ensure that the
skin is thoroughly dry.
3. Consult your prosthetist before using moisturizing creams
or lotions. Vaseline or petroleum-based lotions degrade some types of
prosthetic liners. Only use softening lotions when your skin is at risk of
cracking or peeling. If a moisturizing lotion is needed, it is best to apply it
at night or at other times when you will not be wearing your prosthesis. Do not
apply lotions to any open area.
4. If needed, applying an antiperspirant roll-on deodorant
to the residual limb can help you control odor and perspiration. Do not apply
antiperspirant to any open area.
5. Do not use alcohol-based products on your residual limb;
they dry out the skin and can contribute to cracking or peeling.
6. Do not shave your residual limb; pressure from the
prosthetic socket on "stubble" can cause the hair to grow inward, become
painful, and, in the worst cases, even become infected. Never use chemical hair
removers on your residual limb.
7. Avoid prolonged soaking in warm bathtubs or hot tubs
because this may cause increased swelling in your residual limb. Inspection of Your Residual Limb
1. Regular inspection of your residual limb using a
long-handled mirror will help you identify skin problems early.
2. Initially, inspections should be done whenever you remove
your prosthesis. Later on, most amputees find daily inspection sufficient for
the early identification of skin problems.
3. Inspect all areas of your residual limb. Remember to
inspect the back of your residual limb and all skin creases and bony areas.
4. Look for any signs of skin irritation, blisters or red
marks that do not fade within 10 minutes of removing your prosthesis. Report
any unusual skin problems to a member of your rehabilitation team. Daily Foot Care
For lower-extremity amputees, it is important to maintain
the health of your remaining foot. This is especially important if you have
diabetes or if you have decreased circulation or sensation in your lower
Your daily routine should include the following:
1. Wash and dry your foot properly: Use a mild soap, rinse
thoroughly, and dry your skin by blotting or patting, making sure to dry
between your toes.
2. Inspect your foot daily: Check for blisters, cuts and
3. Protect your foot from injury: Wear shoes or slippers at
all times, and check your shoes every time you put them on for tears, rough
edges or sharp objects. Perspiration
Perspiration may increase following an amputation for a
couple of reasons. One reason has to do with decreased body surface following
an amputation. You may be perspiring the
same amount, but it is concentrated over a smaller body surface.
is that during prosthetic use, your residual limb is encased in a completely or
partially airtight socket that does not allow sweat to evaporate. In most
cases, daily bathing and the application of an antiperspirant is sufficient to
If odor or heavy perspiration continues to bother you, discuss
other available treatment options with your physician.