Care of the Skin in Summertime

Our skin can be affected directly by the sun's rays, the wind and insects during Summer. Our affected limb needs extra special care to lessen the chance of infection from skin damage.

What is infection of the skin?
The skin protects the inside of the body from outside dangers such as the sun and harmful bacteria., Insects can penetrate this barrier so we must deter them.

Skincare is important for all people, not just lymphoedema patients. We have on our skin a natural acid mantle Ph.5.5 which is converted to Vitamin D by the action of the sun and protects us from the effects of the sun and the invasion of bacteria. This layer is removed by washing with alkaline products such as soap; PH9-10, thus leaving us open to the damage of from the sun's rays and multiplication of harmful bacteria.

Summer Precautions:

* Use a Ph balanced body wash rather than soap i.e. Hamilton's Bodywash. Other similar products are available. Avoid high perfume or products which reduce moisture of skin.

* Keep skin well moisturised, prevent cracking (bacteria can enter and multiply quickly in the high protein medium). Use a bath oil for dry skin. Avoid talcum powders.

* Treat any cuts or abrasions immediately with an antiseptic and seek medical advise if infection is suspected.

* Use a sunscreen SPF15+ or higher when exposed to the sun, especially the affected limb and reapply frequently especially after swimming.

* Insect repellent should be worn outdoors as bites can bring on or worsen Lymphoedema symptoms.

* Wear loose protective clothing to prevent exposure of the skin to sunlight.

* Take special care to dry feet thoroughly after showering. Tinea should be treated immediately to prevent infection starting. Wear absorbent socks to absorb perspiration.

* Daily laundering of garment is essential for maximum protection from bacteria should there be a break in the skin.

The above information was presented by Nerida Smith (President) at the Support Group Meetings in Brisbane and the Gold Coast in November 1997.

Information gathered from various sources is intended as a guide only for general reference and should not be taken as medical advice.