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Cancer Center

Prevention of Lymphedema

Prevention:

Some lymphedemas occur immediately after the injury to the lymph system and others can occur years afterwards. Some lymphedemas occur gradually and others can come on suddenly as the result of an infected hangnail, bug bite or other seemingly innocuous event. If your lymph system has been damaged after undergoing cancer treatment or by injury, it is important that you remain vigilant in caring for the affected area.

Consider these helpful tips in preventing complications of lymphedema:  

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Keep skin clean and well moisturized
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing
  • Rest the affected limb in an elevated position while sleeping or traveling
    (particularly on planes)
  • Wear a compression garment (support sleeves or compression stockings) and
    drink plenty of fluids when traveling by plane
  • Be conservative when trimming fingernails or toenails, and avoid cutting the
    cuticles
  • Use hypoallergenic soaps and mild laundry detergents to prevent allergic
    reactions or skin irritation
  • Avoid sunburns by using a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30
  • Avoid using heating pads or hot compresses on the affected limb
  • Use electric razors rather than blades
  • Prevent insect bites by using an effective insect repellant
  • Wear gloves when doing housework, gardening, or any chore where you can get
    nicked or scratched.
  • Avoid medical procedures that involve puncturing or placing excess pressure on
    the affected limb, including blood donation, injections, acupuncture, liposuction,
    and blood pressure measurement
  • See your doctor immediately at the first step of infection (eg. redness, irritation)

 

 

 

 

*Based on information from CURE (Cancer Update Research & Education)