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Skin Care

Because of the compromised condition of a lymphovenous limb, we are often susceptible to a large number of skin complications. These may include various skin growths such as skin tags, warts, dermatofibromas, lymphangiomas, rashes, fungal infections, superficial bacterial infections infections which include as impetigo, folliculitis, carbuncles, furuncles and boils and weeping sores.

With lymphedema, some types untreated skin conditions can lead to serious consequences including systemic infections (sepsis), gangrene, amputation and even death.

We should daily, before wrapping or bandaging,use skin lotion to help keep the skin soft and to prevent chapping or cracking from dryness. Our skin is the front line of defense against invasive bacterial or fungal infections.

Good skin health is critical to our overall good health

The information below is taken from a variety of sources and are all good helpful info on keeping our skin healthy.


Lotions Members Use for Skin Care

Many of our members have from time to time written in about the type of lotion they use on their skin.

These include:

  • Eucerin
  • Curel
  • Dermaltherapy
  • Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion
  • Aquifier
  • Lymphoderm

Practical Tips for Skin Care

The skin is the body's first line of defense. It protects the body from trauma and infection and aids in temperature regulation. Therefore it is essential to keep the skin healthy. Individuals who have had any impairment of the lymphatic system are especially at risk for developing an infection. Any small cut or abrasion can allow bacteria to enter the skin and the stagnant lymphatic fluid is a perfect milieu in which bacteria can grow.

Simple measures which will promote healthy skin:

1. Inspect the skin daily for any crack, cuts or dry areas. Check carefully areas with reduced sensation or where there are skin folds.

2. Clean skin daily with non-perfumed soap

3. Dry skin completely, especially the area between the toes

4. Keep skin supple. Use a Iow pH lotion as Eucerin to keep the skin moist and pliable.

5. Check fingernails and toenails for any signs of infection, cracks, fungus, or hangnails. Do not cut nails or cuticles. Use an emery board.

6. Call your doctor at the first signs of any infection, redness or temperature.

People who have lymphedema, diabetes or vascular disease are at risk for infections.

Helpful hints on skin care

1. To care for corns and calluses, do not use over the counter medications such as Dr. Scholl's corn pads as they contain acid. After the bath or shower, when the skin is softened, buff the skin to remove the dead skin and soften calluses.

2. Corns can develop between the 4th and 5th toes as the foot swells. Fungus can also develop, which can lead to infections. Changing to larger or wider shoes may alleviate the development of corns. Use lambs wool in between the toes to reduce friction.

3. When you trim your toe nails, round the edges to prevent ingrown toenails. Boil clippers for one minute and let cool for one hour before using.

4. Dry you feet very well after bathing, especially between the toes. Do not use alcohol on your feet. Use a Iow pH lotion.

5. If you are unable to cut your toe nails, see a Podiatrist regularly.

6. Use a mild, unscented lotion after bathing. (LYMPHODERM.)

7. Wash your elastic compression sleeves/stockings and stockinet for compression bandaging daily.

8. Use an electric razor to remove hair on affected areas to minimize risk of nicks and scratches

9. Avoid sunburn. Always protect your skin from being injured from the sun.

Skin Care Basics

Good skin care plays a vital part in the treatment of lymphoedema. Any break in the skin, however small, can be an entry site for germs. The protein-rich fluid in the swollen area acts as an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. If you develop an infection (sometimes called cellulitis) the swollen part becomes red, hot and very painful. You will feel generally unwell and may lose your appetite. Antibiotics are usually needed to clear it up and they should be started immediately. It is important to see your doctor, stop all lymphoedema treatment and rest the swollen part in a supported, comfortable position so that the hand or foot is not hanging downwards.

Severe lymphoedema can cause the skin to become thickened and scaly. This increases the risk of breaks in the skin. However, good moisturising can prevent this. You can get suitable creams on prescription from your doctor if you need to.

Listed below are some simple tips to help you care for your skin, prevent damage and reduce the risk of infection:

Do not have blood samples or any other injections in your affected limb.

Do not have your blood pressure taken on your affected limb.

Treat even small grazes and cuts straight away. Wash the area thoroughly and cover it if necessary. See your GP as soon as possible if you develop any signs of infection around the cut – redness, heat or inflammation.

Moisturize your skin every day by gently smoothing in non-perfumed cream or oil. This helps the skin to remain supple and in good condition.

Don't have your bath or shower too hot – it will increase swelling. Avoid saunas, steam rooms and sun beds.

Don't sit too close to a fire or other direct heat.

Wear gloves for washing up and other household tasks to avoid cuts.

Wear gloves and long-sleeved clothing when handling animals or gardening so that you do not get scratched.

Use insect repellents to prevent insect bites. If you are stung, seek medical advice.

Use a thimble when sewing.

Avoid sunburn.

To avoid cuts, use an electric razor when shaving hair from the swollen area.

Cut your nails with nail clippers and use hand cream regularly. Never push back or cut your cuticles.

Use anti-fungal powder to prevent athlete's foot.

See a chiropodist for foot and nail care if you need extra help and let him or her know you have lymphoedema. Make sure you wear well-fitting shoes.


Top Five Habits for Healthy Skin

Proactive skin care, from skin protection to proper shaving technique, will help you keep your skin youthful and healthy

Your busy lifestyle leaves little time for pampering skin care. The result: Your skin isn't the baby-soft body glove with which you were born. With age, your skin gradually becomes thinner and finely wrinkled. Oil-producing (sebaceous) glands grow less active leaving your skin drier. The number of blood vessels in your skin decreases, your skin becomes more fragile, and you lose your youthful color and glow.

Good skin care — such as avoiding the sun, washing your skin gently and applying moisturizer regularly — can help delay the natural aging process and prevent many skin problems. These simple skin-care habits will help you protect your skin to keep it healthy and glowing for years to come.

Protect yourself from the sun

The best way to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. Ultraviolet light — the invisible but intense rays of the sun — damages your skin, causing deep wrinkles, dry, rough skin, liver spots, and more serious disorders, such as noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) skin tumors.

For the most complete sun protection, use all three of these methods:

  • Avoid the sun during high-intensity hours
  • The sun's rays are most damaging from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Reduce the time you spend outdoors during these hours.
  • Wear protective clothing

Cover your skin with clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide-brimmed hats. Also, keep in mind that certain clothing styles and fabrics offer better protection from the sun than do others. For example, long-sleeved shirts offer better protection than short-sleeved shirts do. And tightly woven fabrics such as denim are better than loosely woven fabrics such as knits.

  • Use sunscreen

Apply sunscreen liberally 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, after heavy sweating or after being in water.

Don't smoke

Smoking can accelerate the normal aging process of your skin, contributing to wrinkles. Skin changes from smoking can be seen in young adults who have been smoking for as few as 10 years.

Smoking causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin. This decreases blood flow, depleting the skin of oxygen and nutrients, such as vitamin A, that are important to skin health. All of these factors increase damage to the elastic fibers (elastin) and collagen which give your skin strength and elasticity.

In addition, the repetitive facial expressions you make when smoking — such as pursing your lips when inhaling and squinting your eyes to keep out smoke — may contribute to wrinkles. It's also possible that repeated exposure to the heat from burning cigarettes may damage your facial skin over time.

Wash your skin gently

Cleaning is an essential part of caring for your skin. The key is to treat your skin gently.

  • Use warm water and limit bath time.
  • Hot water and long showers or baths remove oils from your skin. Limit your bath or shower time to about 15 minutes or less, and use warm, rather than hot, water.
  • Avoid strong soaps.
  • Strong soaps — those most capable of stripping oil from your skin — can leave your skin dry. Instead, choose mild soaps with oils and fats added to them during the soap manufacturing process.
  • Avoid irritating additives.
  • If your skin is sensitive, avoid products containing perfumes or dyes. These can irritate your skin and may trigger an allergic response.
  • Remove eye makeup carefully.

Use a soft sponge, cotton cloth or cotton balls when removing eye makeup to avoid damaging the delicate tissue around your eyes. If you wear heavy, waterproof makeup, you may need to use an oil-based product such as petroleum jelly.

  • Pat dry.

After washing or bathing, gently pat or blot your skin dry with a towel so that some moisture remains on the skin. Immediately moisturize your skin with an oil or cream.

Moisturize regularly

Moisturizers help maintain your skin's natural moisture levels. They work by providing a seal over your skin — to keep water from escaping — or by slowly releasing water into your skin.

The moisturizer that's best for you and the frequency with which you need to moisturize depends on many factors, including your skin type, your age and whether you have specific conditions such as acne. A good way to test if you need a moisturizer is to wait 20 minutes after bathing. If your skin feels tight, you should apply a moisturizer.

Select a moisturizer with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 to help protect your skin from damaging ultraviolet rays. If you have sensitive skin, look for products free of heavy dyes, perfumes or other additives. If your skin is very dry, you may want to apply an oil, such as baby oil, while your skin is still moist. Oil has more staying power than moisturizers do and prevents the evaporation of water from the surface of your skin. If your skin is oily, you may want to skip moisturizing.

Shave carefully

Shaving is a common and inexpensive way to remove unwanted hair. But shaving can cause skin irritations, especially if your skin is thin, dry or very sensitive.

For a smooth shave:

  • Press a warm wash cloth on your skin before shaving to soften the hair. Or shave after a warm bath or shower.
  • Don't shave dry skin, which can cause razor burn. Apply shaving cream, lotion or gel before shaving to protect and lubricate your skin.
  • Use a clean, sharp razor. If using an electric razor, don't use the closest setting, which can irritate the skin.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it.
  • Rinse your skin afterwards with warm water.

If irritation does occur, apply a lotion that doesn't contain ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. Though alcohol and alcohol-based products may feel cooling, they don't really soothe irritated skin because the alcohol evaporates rapidly from the skin.

Mayo Clinic Skin Care

Antioxidant nutrients and skin protection

Free radical damage is one of the principal mechanisms of aging. Free radicals are highly and indiscriminately reactive chemicals that can damage any structure in living cells. The most common source of free radicals is normal burning of fuel that occurs in every cell every minute of every day. (Generally, the more free radicals a species produces, the shorter its life span.) Skin suffers additional free radical damage from sunlight and pollutants. Topical antioxidants provide some protection against environmental damage to the skin and may be somewhat effective in slowing down the skin aging. However, topical antioxidants are relatively unreliable. Their effect depends on skin permeability, other ingredients in the cream and many other factors. It appears that increasing oral intake of some antioxidants may additionally protect skin from free radicals. Keep in mind, however, that relatively little solid research has been done specifically on skin benefits of oral or topical antioxidants and much of the supporting evidence is indirect.

A very important chemical property for an oxidant is its solubility in water and fat (or oil). Basically, living organisms have two types of internal media, watery extra- and intracellular space and oily membranes that serve as partitions enclosing individual cells and various intracellular compartments. Water-soluble antioxidants are effective mainly in extra- and intracellular fluid, whereas fat-soluble antioxidants protect biological membranes. Both types of antioxidants are needed to create an effective shield against free radicals for the entire body, and skin in particular.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a principal fat soluble antioxidant vitamin in the body. It protects cellular membranes, lipoproteins and other “oily” structures. Skin is high in unsaturated fatty acids (“oily” molecules especially susceptible to free radical damage), and can benefit from vitamin E protection (both oral and topical).


Flavonoids are a diverse group of plant pigments with antioxidant properties. These substances are responsible for color in many fruits, vegetables and flowers. In addition to providing color that attracts insects or animals, these pigments protect plants from environmental stress. In addition to being potent antioxidants, some flavonoids have antiallergic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory activity. Over 4,000 flavonoids have been characterized and classified, but only a few have been researched. As far as skin benefits are concerned, two classes of flavonoids appear to be especially beneficial: proanthocyanins (found in grapes and pine bark) and polyphenols (found in green tea).

Coenzyme Q10, Lipoic acid, Cysteine, Methionine

Coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, cysteine and methionine are potent antioxidants. But they also play other roles that are at least as important as their antioxidant activity. See also the article about conditionally essential nutrients in this section.

Smar Skin Care


June 25, 2003

Writer: Linda Anderson, (979) 862-1460, Contact: Dr. Carol Rice, (979) 845-3850,

COLLEGE STATION – Weighing in somewhere around 8 pounds, it's the largest organ in the human body, according to the American Medical Association.

It's also the first line of defense against disease, providing protection from dirt and germs.

And now that summer's here, it's also more visible.

The human body is covered in skin, a complex organ which most take for granted.

But skin is vital to health, said Dr. Carol Rice, Texas Cooperative Extension health specialist. Skin has contact “with harmful agents such as bacteria, viruses and chemicals, and (works) to protect your body from their effects.

“Your skin also helps regulate your body temperature. Your skin may also reflect your health, interacting with other organs. It can alert you to problems that may be going on inside your body,” she said.

Skin is made up of three layers, said Rice: (1) the epidermis, or thin outer layer; (2) the dermis, a thicker layer under the epidermis; and (3) the subcutaneous tissue, underneath the first two layers, which contains fat. Within these three layers are nerves, sebaceous glands and sweat glands.

Because skin is so important to overall health, she said, a branch of medicine – dermatology – is devoted to the care and study of problems of the skin. Dermatologists are doctors who specialize in treating conditions of the skin, including acne, athlete's foot, hives, psoriasis, rashes and skin cancer.

Skin problems can be common, Rice said, but, for the most part, “they are rarely life-threatening. Diagnosing skin problems the first time you have a particular ailment may require a dermatologist's … or other doctor's care. Many problems, however, can be treated or prevented by following a few simple tips.”

Rice's tips include

Limit the skin's exposure to sunlight. Wearing protective clothing – such as hats and long sleeves – and using sun screen can help protect skin from harmful rays of the sun. Moisturizers can keep skin from getting too dry.

Too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer, or at least, skin that is wrinkled, blotchy or leathery.

Inside the home, keep the air cool and a little humid.

Don't wash skin with very hot water, since that will dry the skin. After showering or bathing, pat the skin dry rather than rubbing it, and use oil or skin cream immediately. Choose heavy, water-in-oil moisturizers rather than light creams that are mostly water or creams or lotions that contain alcohol.

Soap can dry skin. To minimize dryness, use soap with moisturizing cream.

Wash in tepid, not hot, water; use a cloth or sponge, which will help remove dead cells. Dry skin needs to be washed with superfatted soaps; oily skin may need to be cleansed two or three times daily.

When shaving, use a blade razor with a sharp blade. Soften the beard for a few seconds with a warm face cloth; use plenty of shaving cream. Shave in the direction of hair growth – shaving against growth direction can cause skin irritation. Dermatologists can suggest products for treating shaving-related skin irritations.

Use oil-based makeup on dry skin; water-based on oily skin. Remove eye makeup before cleaning your face, and use cotton balls to avoid damaging delicate skin around the eyes.

When using the services provided by the skin and nail care industry – including beauty and/or nail salons, barbershops, tanning salons or massage therapy establishments – look for or ask to see appropriate licensing and inspection certificates, Rice said.

“The Texas Cosmetology Commission and the Texas Department of Health Bureau of Food and Drug Safety, Licensure and Enforcement Division handle licensure of professionals working in these fields, as well as rules and regulations for sanitation and disinfectant practices, among other legal issues.

“A well-kept facility should have no reservations in providing you their credentials and certificates.”

Link no longer valid

How to choose skin care products

Mon, 17 Dec 2007 16:01:29

The high absorption ability of the skin makes it necessary for individuals to choose personal skin care products with outmost care.

As a result, using personal care products containing one or probably more of the following ingredients is dangerous.

· Mineral Oil, Paraffin, and Petrolatum - Petroleum products coat the skin like plastic, clog the pores and create toxins, which can slow down cellular development and result in early aging.

· Parabens - It is widely used as a preservative in the cosmetic industry (including moisturizers) and is a carcinogen. It also has hormone-disrupting qualities and interferes with the body's endocrine system.

· Phenol carbolic acid - Found in many lotions and skin creams. It can cause circulatory collapse, paralysis, convulsion, coma and even death caused by respiratory failure.

· Propylene glycol - it is used as a moisturizer in cosmetics and as a carrier in fragrance oils. It can cause dermatitis, kidney or liver abnormalities, and may inhibit skin cell growth or cause skin irritation.

· Acrylamide - Which is found in many hand and face creams, is linked to different tumors.

· Sodium laurel or lauryl sulfate (SLS) - also known as sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) - Found in car washes, engine degreasers, garage floor cleaners and in over 90% of personal care products.

It breaks down the skin's moisture barrier, easily penetrates the skin, and allows other chemicals to easily penetrate as well.

Combined with other chemicals, SLS becomes a 'nitrosamine', a potent class of carcinogen. It can also cause hair loss. SLES is sometimes disguised with the labeling 'comes from coconut' or 'coconut-derived'.

· Toluene - Poison! Danger! Harmful or fatal if swallowed! Harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Made from petroleum or coal tar, and found in most synthetic fragrances.

Chronic exposure is linked to anemia, lowered blood cell count, liver or kidney damage, and may affect the developing fetus.

· Dioxane - Found in compounds known as PEG, Polysorbates, Laureth, ethoxylated alcohols. It is common in a wide range of personal care products and is considered a carcinogen.

*Contributed by Anne, RN and member. Moderator of Advocates for Lymphedema

External Links

American Academy of Dermatology

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Medical Association

Mayo Clinic

Choosing Skin Care Products:

The Skin Care Campaign

Lymphedema People Internal Links

Lymphedema People Resources

skin_care.txt · Last modified: 2012/10/16 14:40 (external edit)