Customize Your Skin-Care Routine for Your Prosthetic Limb
As someone with a prosthetic limb, you may find it necessary to add a few extra steps to your skincare regimen. The best way to get the most out of your prosthesis is to learn to take care of it and the skin beneath its surface. Check out these 5 tips to optimize your routine.
Cleansing your skin and prosthetic limb
Just like the rest of your skin, a great first step would be to cleanse. There are more risk factors for the skin of an amputated limb, especially if it’s constantly enclosed by a prosthesis. The skin barrier is both a physical and functional barrier to keep the good things, like moisture, in, and the bad things, like external irritants, out. With that being said, gently wash the area - no need to scrub it excessively. Your limb should be cleaned after every prosthetic use, more often if excessive perspiration is apparent.
It is extremely important to avoid dyes and fragrances in your cleanser. In the event of a sore or open wound, these two known irritants can lead to allergic reactions or infections. Find a cleanser that is gentle and that will not dry out your skin.
Don't forget to give your prosthesis a good wash, as well. This is an important step in the daily skin-care routine. Be mindful of what you are using to wash off your prosthesis, because this will also impact your skin. We recommends washing your prosthesis and liner with an unscented dish soap, as it rinses off well without leaving any residue to potentially irritate your skin.
The 411 on shaving under your prosthesis
It is not typically recommended to shave the area that comes in contact with your prosthesis. It can create ingrown hairs that could lead to infections. Shaving can result in accidentally cutting or nicking yourself, which will inevitably rub against that open wound, all day.
If hair removal is a part of your routine, we advises shaving in the direction of the hair, and using a shaving cream or gel. For those wanting smooth skin, laser hair removal could be a great option if you are able to invest, but it is not necessary. Nair is another hair removal method that runs a lower risk of causing ingrown hairs.
Moisturize the skin under your prosthesis
You will want to choose a formula that work for your skin and your prosthesis. It is important to check with your prosthetist - they know what your prosthesis is made of and can advise on what not to use to avoid damaging it.
Apply lotion to your skin just as you are putting on your prosthesis. Something water-based will protect the barrier of your skin. The moisturizer creates a protective layer in the likely case of rubbing or friction. It is a general rule to avoid using anything oil-based. It can sit on top of your skin and can absorb into certain thermoplastics and silicones, causing them to soften and lose their shape, which can shorten the lifespan of your prosthesis. Don't let a moisturizer be the downfall of your prosthesis!
Use an antiperspirant under your prosthesis
It is inevitable that you are going to sweat when you encase a part of your body in materials commonly used in a prosthetic socket. The function of your prosthetic limb could be compromised if your prosthetic is slipping around due to sweat. With perspiration being one of the biggest challenges with wearing a prosthesis, we advise taking regular breaks to remove your prosthesis and dry off any moisture on your limb and prosthesis.
Most deodorants contain fragrances and formulas that can cause irritation, so it is best to invest in something fragrance-free and designed specifically for excessive perspiration.
Examining your limb is important
Looking closely to your limb is necessary. With an amputated limb, you might experience touch differently or feel numb in some areas. Daily visual checks of your limb are essential because if you’re relying solely on what you’re feeling, you might easily miss something that requires your attention.
Not only is taking care of your skin important. Learning to interact with your limb - washing, moisturizing, and looking at it - may help you feel at ease with this part of yourself. Establishing a skin-care routine for your residual limb may give you the confidence to attain the level of independence you may need.