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L-W-O Community

Primary, Secondary & Paediatric Lymphoedema Online & in the Community

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.  

 

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;

http//:totalhealthmagazine.com/articles/allergies-asthma/consumers-beware-toxins-lurking-in-your-clothing.html

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:  www.gloriagilbere.com

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.

Bath/Shower

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 the warm weather. For detail on foot care Read more...

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. 
  • Preferably use a non-scented low pH level soap and moisturiser as they are less likely to dry out the skin.

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 moisturising your skin you help to protect and prevent the breakdown that should help reduce swelling that could lead to infection.  Don't forget to moisturise:

Don't forget to moisturise your elbows and heels

 

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

Please remember alcohol dehydrates the skin so everything in moderation

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

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

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.

Medication

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 www.mhra.gov.uk/yellowcard

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

 


Page first published May 2014

Page last updated 06/01/2020