The residual limb is vulnerable to infections for a variety of reasons. Many amputees have decreased circulation through the limb, contributing to reduced sensitivity and increased healing time. If the amputee wears a prosthetic, the limb is often subjected to hours of containment in a tight fitting, airtight vessel (the liner and socket). These conditions are conducive to bacteria and fungal infections.
Maintaining a healthy skincare regime is imperative to minimize the risk of developing a sore, blister or infection. Utilizing a few easy hygiene recommendations daily will help to keep your residual limb healthy and prosthetic-ready.
1. After the prosthetic has been worn throughout the day, it is important to wash the limb in the evening. Although some amputees prefer to use an antibacterial soap, it is not necessary. We recommend using any soap that is used in the shower.
2. Perhaps more important than lathering the limb is thoroughly rinsing it. Be sure to remove all of the soap bubbles!
3. Pat your residual limb to dry after washing. Rubbing can lead to small cuts or fabric burns on the sensitive skin of the residual limb.
4. Thoroughly inspect the limb for any skin abnormalities (cuts, sores, blisters etc.). A small hand mirror may be useful to view the underside. If needed, apply Neosporin to any suspected skin breakdown.
5. Liberally apply a body lotion to cover the entire limb. If you are prone to dry skin, we recommend using Eucerin body cream instead of the fluid lotion. The cream is thicker and will be easier to apply after it has been slightly softened in the microwave for approximately 10 seconds.
6. The prosthetic liner should be hand washed daily with soap. Again, rinsing is perhaps more important than lathering. Soap scum can build up on the liner making it difficult to stay in place.
7. It is recommended, although not necessary, to dry the liner before donning. If you are wearing a prosthetic without a liner, it is advisable to wipe the inside of the socket with antibacterial gel or wipes.
8. After exercising, the residual limb and the liner should be washed and dried immediately.
Investing a few minutes a day in caring for your residual limb and prosthetic can help to avoid developing an infection. If you have any questions about how to care for your residual limb or prosthetic, give us a call.