PLEASE NOTE: The following guidelines apply to the affected area only.
Keep the affected area meticulously clean by:
- washing skin thoroughly and frequently
- keeping the skin moist to avoid drying and cracking
- using 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.
Avoid activities which cause more extensive trauma to delicate lymph vessels such as:
- 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 (always 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 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 occurs.
- Seek appropriate treatment for lymphedema, such as Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). CDT is the gold standard of treatment and is safe and reliable.