Whether patient is a new amputee or has been an amputee for years, skin care is always important. With the changes in weather always occurring, skin care and hygiene continue to be a high priority.
While the patient is wearing his or her prosthesis, the residual limb is confined in an airless socket, where heat accumulates and perspiration is trapped, creating a potential environment for bacterial or fungal growth. Also, during the winter months, the skin of residual limb can become dry and cracked due to the dryness of the air.
The skin is our first line defense mechanism against the invasion of infection and disease. It is comprised of several layers and is constantly regenerating. It has sweat glands and hair follicles which again can be sites of irritation. For those involved with high level exercise/ activity you will be well aware of the importance of skin care and stump hygiene to get you to the finish line.
What are the most common skin disorders?
•General irritation/ rashes and abrasions
•Contact dermatitis- amputees can develop allergies to cleaning agents, skin products or prosthetic materials
•Oedema/ skin swelling- many amputees will experience fluctuations in their limb volume, for some this means they need to continue to wear compressive garments when they are not wearing their prosthesis
•Cysts- can result from constant ‘rubbing’ and may start as small bumps or nodules
•Folliculitis- Bacterial infection/inflammation at the base of the hair follicle2
•Adherent scar tissue- from slow wound healing or repeated skin breakdown, can be more susceptible to tension and breakdown
•Ulcers resulting from bacterial infection or poor circulation.
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