Itchy Rash – If you develop a mild rash, use an over-the-counter steroid cream. Also, make sure that your socket or liners are completely rinsed free of soap after washing. Keep your residual limb dry. Seek medical advice if these steps do not work.
Fungal Infection – If you experience an itchy, burning rash akin to athlete’s foot, use a topical anti-fungal cream and make sure your residual limb is dry. Seek medical advice if this treatment does not work.
Verrucous Hyperplasia – This is a condition caused by poor socket fit and is characterized by the development of a wart-like skin growth at the far (distal) end of the residual limb. If untreated, it can lead to an infection that could require revision surgery. Seek immediate prosthetic treatment to remedy the fit issue and seek medical advice to treat your skin.
Ingrown Hair/Folliculitis – Use ichthymal, a drawing salve. Never shave or use depilatory on your residual limb.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, emergency attention is required to prevent the infection from becoming life-threatening:
By using common sense and caution, you can minimize the risk of infection, treat it at its earliest stages, and maximize the amount of time you are able to comfortably wear the prosthesis.
What might prevent you from wearing your prosthesis and maintaining an active lifestyle? Infections: an infection can incubate easily in a prosthetic socket – a non-breathable, warm, contained environment where your natural body oils and sweat mingle, enhancing the breakdown of skin and the growth of bacteria .
Pus/drainage, odor, hot spots, fever, sudden pain, breakdown, blisters, and rashes are all signs of infection. How do you avoid them? Follow these simple preventative steps:
You Can’t Get it On!
On some days, you may have a great deal of difficulty donning (putting on) your prosthesis. Wearing a shrinker or Ace bandage while you sleep and up until you put on your prosthesis in the morning can help prevent swelling overnight. If you are a new amputee, you should wear a shrinker and/or Ace bandage whenever the prosthesis is off. Wearing shrinkers additionally helps shape the leg and prevents “dog-ears” or other shape irregularities that can complicate your fit in the socket.
Another potential cause of difficulty putting the prosthesis on is hot and humid weather. These conditions can cause your residual limb to swell and sweat, making it difficult to don the prosthesis. If this is the case, try (if possible) to get into an air-conditioned room or vehicle. After five to ten minutes, attempt to don the prosthesis again. If you are not diabetic and do not have a circulatory condition, you can also try applying a bag of ice over your residual limb, but make sure that you place a towel between the ice-filled bag and your skin. After 5 minutes, remove the ice and try to don your prosthesis again.
If you continue to have problems, a small amount of non-medicated baby powder applied under the liner may help you. However, continued use of baby powder over time can lead to mechanical issues that will require the prosthetist’s involvement to fix.
You Can’t Keep it On!
What does it mean if your prosthesis keeps slipping off when you walk? If your prosthesis has an air valve, one possible explanation is that you have a leaky valve that is letting air into the socket, breaking the vacuum required to keep the prosthesis on. Another possibility is that the prosthesis was not fully on to start with. Finally, the socket may have become too loose. If you continue to have this problem after donning the prosthesis and verifying that it is on your body correctly, you should call the prosthetist and expect to make a visit to remedy the problem.
Even when you are not confronted with an emergency, regular care and treatment is necessary to achieve a successful outcome. We make it a point to follow up with our patients to make sure that they schedule regular visits. Follow-up permits us to make sure that your prosthetic components are functioning properly and are not showing excessive wear, that all attachment points are secure, and that your socket fits comfortably. Failing to come in for this regular treatment can lead to more serious health problems, and we strongly advise all clients to stop by at the recommended intervals for their own benefit.