The Skinny on Limb Care
Appropriate skin care for amputees.
Whether you are a new amputee or have lived with limb loss for years, skin care is always important. Skin care and hygiene should be a high priority. In your prosthesis, your limb is confined in an airless socket, where heat accumulates and perspiration is trapped, creating a potential jungle for bacterial or fungal growth. To try to prevent skin conditions that compromise the use of your prosthesis appropriate skin care should be an essential part of your daily regimen.
All amputees have a basic dilemma. No matter how well-fitting our prostheses may be, our residual limbs don’t stay the same, especially with changes in activity levels and fluctuating temperatures inside and outside our sockets.
Residual limbs swell, shrink, get pimples, muscle cramps, calluses, blisters, and any other malady that afflicts normal human skin. But the skin of the residual limb is rarely normal. Scar tissue, skin grafts, and skin folds are often lifelong companions. Then, to compound matters, we house this skin in a warm, moist, and dark environment all day. And to add insult to injury, we subject these appendages to pressures that they were never designed to withstand. This is the life of the residual limb.
How do amputees cope with such skin conditions? Most of us utilize some type of survival kit. Based on my personal experience as an amputee (40+ years) and a certified prosthetist (30+ years), here’s what some amputees have found useful for residual limb problem areas.