Skin Care with Lymphedema


One of the most important things when you have Lymphedema is skin care.  It is important to look after your skin because any injury or infection can make the swelling worse.  An injury or infection can do further damage the lymphatic system in the affected area.  Below are some tips on how to properly look after your skin, when you are being treated for Lymphedema:

  • Keep your skin clean & dry – use a soap substitute such as an aqueous cream, Oilatum, or Neutrogena soap bars, or an E45 wash
  • Moisturize your skin at least once a day
  • Clean cuts or grazes straight away with clean water, then put an antiseptic cream on and cover the area
  • Protect your skin from the sun by wearing a high factor sun cream or covering up with clothes
  • Use an insect repellent containing at least 50% DEET – if you are bitten or stung, try not to scratch and use an antihistamine cream
  • Avoid hot baths, saunas, and steam rooms because this can increase swelling
  • Avoid extremes of temperatures that can dry your skin – including hot, cold, or windy weather
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing or jewelry
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Avoid having injections, blood taken, or your blood pressure checked on the affected arm – there is little evidence that shows this increases your risk of swelling or making it worse, but doctors advise it just in case


If you have a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, you may need to see a doctor who specialies in skin conditions (a dermatologist).  Any skin breaks can make you more likely to get an infection.  Keeping your skin healthy, intact, and well moisturized helps prevent this!


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