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NOTE: The following guidelines apply to the affected area only.

Keep the affected area meticulously clean:

  • wash skin thoroughly and frequently
  • keep the skin moist to avoid drying and cracking
  • use low PH lotions to protect the skin from pathogens

Try not to injure the skin as this may cause infection. Avoid:

  • exposure to animal scratches and bites
  • exposure to biting or stinging insects
  • unnecessary skin punctures (vaccines, venipuncture, acupuncture, piercings)
  • chronic self-induced scratching, nail biting, etc.

Other activities which cause more extensive trauma to the delicate lymph vessels:

  • excessive strain during exercise
  • physical overexertion in affected limb(s) (heavy lifting, joint over-rotation)
  • restriction of blood and lymph circulation (blood pressure cuffs, pneumatic pumps, poor fitting elastic garments, unskilled bandaging, tight bra straps, waist bands, watches, rings, etc.)
  • any other blunt trauma or bruising
  • unnecessary surgical procedures (consult a lymphedema specialist first)
  • burns from heat sources including the sun

Temperature extremes cause the lymphatic system to labor. Avoid:

  • frostbite or extreme cold
  • extreme heat from saunas, whirlpools, hot weather
  • heat treatments, hot packs, etc.

Other lifestyle changes may lessen the risk of starting or of worsening lymphedema.

  • when traveling by air use compression garments or low stretch bandaging (those who do not have lymphedema but are predisposed should seek the advice of a lymphedema specialist)
  • keep body weight at optimal levels (obesity can cause lymphedema or worsen pre-existing lymphedema)
  • exercise regularly (special exercises are recommended)
  • seek medical assistance immediately if infection exists
  • seek appropriate treatment for your lymphedema (Complete Decongestive Therapy) - CDT is safe and reliable
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