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Activities for Daily Living

Lesson 5

Personal Hygiene
Personal hygiene includes cleansing your skin as well as your bandages and support stockings. Always keep your skin clean, dry, and well lubricated. When taking a shower or bath, use tepid-warm rather than hot-warm temperatures. Heat can make edema worse. Avoid hot tubs and saunas. Use a gentle soap and rinse well. Make sure to dry well. If you cannot reach to dry between your toes, you might consider using a blow dryer on the low or cool setting. Always apply a generous amount of lotion to your skin, especially to the areas affected by lymphedema. It is important not to let your skin get dried-out and chapped (this could lead to cracking and infection). It is best to apply lotion immediately after bathing and drying, to hold moisture in the skin. Allow a few minutes for the lotion to sink in before putting on support stockings or sleeves. Always use a non-greasy lotion under your support stockings or sleeves (e.g. Aveeno, Lubriderm, or Eucerin). Wash your bandages or support stockings or sleeves frequently (at least every three days). During treatment period we recommend washing bandages once a week in order to keep you in bandages for the longest possible time. Bandages can be machine washed in hot water if they are placed in a pillow case or lingerie bag to prevent them from getting tangled up in the washer. The tubular cotton under -stocking should always be hand washed. Foam padding should be hand washed. It is best to air dry all bandages away from direct sunlight. Washing bandages helps them retain their elasticity. With good care they should last for at least six months.

Skin care
Along with keeping the skin clean and well hydrated, it is important to avoid causing sores (see Safety). Good skin care is your first defense against infection. Avoid trimming hangnails or cuticles. Use a nail file to smooth rough or hangnails and use a cuticle cream to keep cuticles soft. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning and leather gloves when doing yard work. Use an electric razor (not a blade) when shaving your legs or under your arms. Avoid scratches and bites from pets or insects. Protect yourself from sunburn. Use knives or sharp tools with caution, and use a thimble when sewing. If you do get a small wound, clean it with soap and water. Cover the wound with a thin layer of antibacterial ointment and a Band-Aid. Change the Band-Aid whenever it gets wet or dirty, or at least every day. Be alert for any signs of infection: swelling, redness, marked tenderness, or increased heat. Contact your doctor immediately. You may need an oral antibiotic.


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HOPE Lymphedema Treatment Center | 134C Eldridge Road | Sugar Land, TX 77478