The rising temperatures have been a wonderful change after the long winter. Although the winter was not especially harsh in my area, the anticipation of sunshine and warm days is alluring. Unfortunately, warm weather poses a unique problem for the amputee. I have found this to be a nearly universal issue among amputees, yet many remain shy about discussing the problem. Thankfully, I’m not known for being shy!
I’m talking about sweat. The sweaty residual limb is most prominent on hot summer days, or after exercise. It was not unusual for me to have to remove my prosthesis several times a day so that I could wipe down my limb and pour the copious amounts of sweat that has pooled at the bottom of my liner. It is disgusting!
Keeping the limb dry is paramount to maintain both comfort and limb health. If my limb becomes too saturated, my suspension system is compromised and walking is unsafe. Keeping my limb in a dirty, dark and wet environment creates a perfect breeding ground for infection to invade the delicate skin. After some consultations with my prosthetist and numerous discussions with my amputee friends, I began to experiment. I was not terribly optimistic that I would find a remedy for my sweaty limb, but I was hopeful that I would figure out how to keep the sweating to a minimal.
I discovered that spraying the residual limb with antiperspirant spray yielded fantastic results. Roll-on and stick antiperspirants were difficult and cumbersome to apply. For me, Certain-Dri and Secret Platinum have proven to be the most effective against combating the problem. For optimum protection, I recommend thoroughly spraying the limb with two complete applications.
When spraying the residual limb, it is most beneficial if you spray the entire area that is covered by the liner and prosthetic. If one small spot is not covered, the sweat will funnel through. It is also advantageous to allow the antiperspirant spray to thoroughly dry after each application before donning the liner.
When the entire body is sweating, below knee amputees are prone to having the sweat roll down the thigh and into the liner. In this case, the cause of the puddle within the liner is not from the limb but from the leg above the treated area. It may be helpful to place a fabric headband at the location where the top of the liner meets the thigh. The headband will absorb the perspiration and keep the liquid from pooling within the liner.
Antiperspirant works not only to reduce sweating on an amputee’s residual limb, but also is beneficial for those who wear orthopedic braces and splints. Anytime your body is covered and heat is added, sweat will develop. I have found that keeping dry helps to increase my comfort on oppressively hot days.
Because the skin is covered with a chemical, it is important to thoroughly wash off the antiperspirant each night. After all, the skin cells need to breath. I have discovered that if I take a little preventative action against sweating, removing my prosthesis in the evening is not nearly as disgusting.
Have you found any remedies for avoiding a sweaty residual limb? We’d love to know what you do!