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Primary & Secondary Lymphoedema Online & in the Community

This page is being re-written

Welcome to our Skin-care Page

Welcome to L-W-O's Skin-care page.  The aim of this page is to help us understand that, for those of us who live with Lymphoedema, how important it is to take care of our skin.  Our skin is our largest organ and it needs to be nourished and cared for.  Looking after our skin is our responsibility.   L-W-O members often make recommendations that work for them, so what works for one member might not work for another.  

There are one link in the drop-down menu;

Skin Brushing

The video above is demonstrated by Christine Morgan.  Skin brushing routine when lymph nodes have been removed.

Body Brushing

Body brushing will help get rid of dead skin cells and help your skin from drying out, leaving your skin silky soft. Furthermore body brushing helps to eliminate toxins and helps with cell regeneration.  It gives a big boost to your lymphatic system by moving lymphatic flow.  Body brushing stimulates the blood flow and circulation as well as sweat and sebaceous glands.

​Body brushing;

  • restores radiance to the skin
  • stimulates circulation
  • eliminates toxins
  • ​rejuvenates the nervous system
  • boosts skin elasticity
  • ​removes dead skin


  • always brush towards the heart
  • use long, upward overlapping strokes
  • avoid skin that is broken or wounded
  • it is normal for skin to turn slightly pink
  • best time to brush is in the morning before a shower
  • clean brush with soap and water

Skin Problems

One of the questions that is often asked on the online support group is why our members often have skin problems.  Is it because of medication? The environment? Or is it down to our lymphoedema?  I am really not qualified to answer this question, however I have a friend who for years worked in the textile industry.   He has been left with Chromium poisoning in his feet.  This has turned his feet yellow.  My friend has always stated that if you have eczema or dermatitis you should not wear black or navy next to your skin because of the high concentration of Chromium in the dyes.   I started researching and have found an article you might find of interest.  The article is about the toxins that are in your clothes.  The link below is for you to read yourself and make your own decision;


Here is an extract from the article that made me sit up and take notice. 
"When toxins are absorbed through the skin, they are taken up by the lymphatic system, then into the blood stream and eventually the liver---the chemical processing plant of the body responsible for removing the toxins".

The author and source of this article is Gloria Gilbere she specializes in environmental health, inflammation, chemical sensitivities and chemically induced immune system disorders.  Gloria Gilbere has written two articles on the Lymphatic System and several books on the subjects she specializes in.  Website:

I fully understand that virtually every piece of clothing we wear is synthetic and therefore full of chemicals.  With the need for affordable clothing most of us do not have a choice.  However, what we can do if a skin problem develops and worsens when wearing a particular piece of clothing is to discard that item.  Please be aware, but don't let it rule your life.


When you have your bath/shower make sure you test the water temperature.  Optimum shower temperature 320​ - 42 0 ​Celsius.  Ours is kept on 380 ​because this suits me and my husband.  Its a personal choice.  We are lucky as our shower has its own thermostat.  Extreme cold water temperatures are not good for lymphoedema skin, neither is anything too hot.

Make sure you dry your skin thoroughly.  Especially between sensitive areas and the toes.  Looking after your feet in cold weather is as important as in warm.


Reduce the risk of infection

Moisturise                     Moisturise          Moisturise          

Our skin is the largest organ in our body and we need to take care of it as it will be with us for the rest of our lives.  Looking after your skin now that you have been diagnosed with lymphoedema is extremely important. 

Skin can become dry and at times you may feel you want to scratch, cracks and breaks can happen quite easily, often before you become aware.  By moisturizing your skin you help to protect and prevent the breakdown that should help reduce swelling that could lead to infection.

Skin Hygiene

Keep your skin clean and dry.  I cannot stress enough the importance of hygiene and especially hand washing. 


  • Use soap free cleansers (Aqueous Cream) that will not dry your skin out.
  • Moisturising is a good way to avoid this so after your bath or shower get into the habit of treating your skin on a daily basis. 
  • If you have to wear a sleeve or any form of compression garments, then moisturise at night before you go to bed. 
  • I can not emphasise enough how important it is to moisturise with an unperfumed cream or oil.  If you do it daily it takes seconds.

Prevent Infection

Small cuts and grazes should be treated immediately by washing the area thoroughly, then apply antiseptic cream.  I carry a tube of antiseptic cream every time I go out. 

If you see any sign of infection then a trip to see your doctor is a must. 

To emphasise the dangers, one of our L-W-O members had a small paper cut at work. This was early morning by 12.00 p.m., she was sent home. Early evening she felt extremely poorly her temperature by this time had shot up to 39. At 8.00 p.m. she was admitted to hospital.  This is how quickly infection can spread with Lymphoedema.  

If your GP surgery is not open then look for your nearest walk in centre.  Please remember A & E departments are overstretched, however never leave an infection and if that is the only option you must use it.  At all times avoid the following:


Avoid having blood taken from the affected side or site of your lymphoedema

  • No injections, blood transfusions, drip infusions, acupuncture or tattoos to the affected side or site
  • Make sure family and friends are aware so that if you are incapacitated in any way they can speak for you
  • Carry a Medical Alert card or wear a bracelet with your details on
  • Use ICE (in case of emergency) on your mobile phone with a contactable number for next of kin
  • When using ICE there is a place to put notes so you can give details of your lymphoedema
  • If you phone is pass coded please make sure you carry a Medical Alert Card
  • If you see any signs of infection use a marker pen, circle the area so that, when you seek medical help they can see how quickly it has spread


Don't forget to moisturise from within, drink lots of water.


Skin Hydration

  • Keep hydrated this is good way of moisturising from within. 
  • If you can't face cold water try a glass of warm water with a slice of lemon or lime.
  • Stay away from Caffeine like coffee and fizzy drinks. 
  • Try drinking herbal teas, there are so many different flavours to try.

Food - good for the skin

Another way to nourish your skin is to eat fruit and vegetables especially those with vitamins A, C, and E.

Very few foods have vitamin D in and you need this for your skin.  Oily fish such as herring, fresh tuna, mackerel, salmon and sardines all good for you.

Antioxidant foods such as broccoli, dark leafy vegetables, kiwi, peppers and tomatoes all contribute to your wellbeing.

Skin care


Patch Test

Whenever you try new products always remember to do a patch test.

Lymphoedema skin can be super sensitive so please take good care of it.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera is also very good for skin.  There are plenty of natural products on the market that do not contain chemicals.

Coconut oil

Several of our members recommend Natural Organic Virgin Coconut Oil this is:

  • antibacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-fungal



  • Remember alcohol dehydrates the skin. 
  • Everything in moderation. 


Certain medications make me itch and I scratch like mad, so if this happens to you, see your doctor.  Several of my medications state, 'may cause itching, skin rashes or hives'.

  • Read the leaflet that comes with your medication
  • Check leaflet for possible side-effects
  • In some cases your GP can prescribe an antihistamine
  • Speak to your GP or Pharmacist

You can also report side-effects directly via the Yellow Card Scheme website

Lymphoedema and Diabetes

To be researched and written


Please read the Medical Disclaimer in the Footer below.

Please remember that L-W-O does not accept responsibility or liability for these tips.  Always consult your own Health Care Professional.


Whilst undergoing radiotherapy you will already have been advised to use copious amounts of aqueous cream to keep your skin in the best possible condition.  However once your skin has settled down after treatment then you can find a moisturising cream that suits you.  If in doubt ask your pharmacist. 

I have been lucky that I am able to use a moisturising cream from my local supermarket which is more than adequate for my needs and is inexpensive.


Very important point; I do not remember being told or remember seeing in any of the material I have read, about letting other people know that you have lymphoedema.  

Please make sure that your family and friends are aware in case of accident that, they can tell health care professionals that, you have lymphoedema.  This might seem like common sense but in case you are incapacitated they can make sure blood or injections are not given or taken from your affected limb. 

My lymphoedema is Breast & Chest Wall so I do not wear a compression garment and therefore it would not be obvious that I have lymphoedema.  It is important that my family and friends know that I can not have, blood or blood pressure, or injections from, my affected side. 

Elbows and Heels

Moisturise your skin daily including your elbows, feet, heels, knees and legs to make sure you keep your skin in good condition. 

Preferably use a non scented low pH level moisturiser.

Winter Skin Care


There is great emphasis on how to look after your Lymphoedema skin in hot weather.  However, we must not forget that we need to care for our skin in cold weather.

Skin can become chapped and dry as the autumn and winter approaches.  If you start to scratch because your skin has become dry, then you may cause a break in the skin that would allow infection to get in. 


Cold air and central heating can also have quite an effect on your skin. If you turn your central heating off at night or down low this will reduce your skin drying out whilst you snuggle under the duvet.  This will also save you money on your heating bills!!  


Page first published May 2014

Page last updated 16/11/2018