Caring for the Skin of the Residual Limb

"Stump, stubbie, shortie, 'lil one, moose, Oscar."  Often, a great deal of time has been utilized to name residual limbs, but not enough time is taken to care for them properly.  The skin on the souls of the feet are created to withstand increased loads and weight bearing through space over a long duration of time.  The skin on the residual limb was not created for the same reason so it requires special attention and specific care.  Below are some tips and suggested methods to care for residual limbs:

 

Clean the limb daily - This may seem like the standard practice of care, but some individuals need to be reminded that it is important to clean the skin of the residual limb daily.

 

Use anti-bacterial soap - Any soap will be beneficial, but anti bacterial soap will combat build up on the limb secondary to constant contact with the liner.

 

Wipe the limb when sweat builds up - Use a Sham Wow or something similar so that you can reuse and wash the material, as compared to a terry cloth towel.  Depending on the individual, the activity level, and the temperature, the limb may need to be wiped clean several times a day.

 

Inspect the limb at least once a day - Residual limbs will have altered sensation patterns or decreased sensation in general.  This means that the individual with limb loss may not be able to feel a skin breakdown or irritation.  It is recommended that the individual with limb loss should use a mirror to inspect the limb at least once a day to observe minor breakdowns when they occur and prevent more significant or detrimental breakdowns.

 

Use antiperspirant nightly - Using antiperspirant nightly will decrease sweat build up the next day and act as a moisturizer for the skin of the residual limb.

 

Use spray antiperspirant daily - Using spray antiperspirant before donning the liner each morning will decrease sweat build up and prevent skin break down.

 

Laser Hair Removal - Shaving the skin will increase the potential for ingrown hairs and skin infections.  A razor should never be used on the residual limb.  If hair removal is important to the individual with limb loss, then laser hair removal is recommended. 

 

Do not sleep in the liner - Allow the limb time to "breathe" out of the liner and socket every evening to decrease the risk of skin breakdown.

 

 

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