manage-sweat-prosthesis

Manage Sweat in Your Prosthesis

How Can I Manage Sweat in my Prosthesis?

One of the great benefits of Florida life is that you can be outside and active year round.  However, this could lead to sweat build up in your prosthesis.  Especially if you have an active lifestyle. Not only are you uncomfortable, but you also run the risk of skin breakdown.  In this article, we will discuss the dangers of excess sweating and various options that will help you control this problem.

Dangers of Skin Breakdown

Your skin is your body’s first line of defense against disease.  The first sign of trouble is inflammation and/or a rash that can be quite uncomfortable.  This environment is ideal for microbes to multiply and result in a number of health problems.

The longer that excess moisture stays on your skin, the greater the chance for problems to develop.  Once your sheath is soaked with sweat, friction occurs between the sheath and your damp skin, causing blisters to develop.  These blisters can become infected and painful, and if left untreated, they can lead to a life-threatening systemic blood infection.

Another complication that can occur is when sweat has built up inside the gel liner.  It causes the liner to slip off of the skin.  When this happens, your suspension is affected, which causes your prosthesis to fit differently.  This increases movement of your limb, which can also lead to skin breakdown and the problems outlined above.

What You Can Do About It

Preparation is key.  Anticipating your needs ahead of time and bringing the necessary items with you that you will need to keep sweat at a minimum can help you avoid the dangers that excessive sweat inside your prosthesis can cause.  Here is a checklist you should follow whenever you have activities planned that could cause you to sweat.

  • Bring a washcloth and an extra sheath or pair of cotton socks and take stop periodically to remove your prosthesis and wash off the sweat.  Replace the wet sheath or sock with one of the dry ones you have brought with you before reapplying your prosthesis to continue.
  • Make sure your gel liner fits well and is in good shape.  If your liner is loose, replace it before you embark on any activities.  A loose-fitting liner allows the sweat to pool more.
  • The night before a planned outing, apply an antiperspirant to the skin of your limb.  Be sure to do this at night when your prosthesis is off, because the chemicals in it can cause deterioration of some gel liners.  Antiperspirants that are prescription strength are recommended and can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription.  They are powerful and can dry out your skin, so be sure to use it no more than every other day until you see how well you tolerate it.
  • For below-the-knee amputations, you can wear an absorbent headband above the gel liner or suspension sleeve to absorb any sweat that trickles down towards the liner.
  • Try wearing some of the newer wicking socks.  These go under your liner and are supposed to absorb more sweat.  There is also a new material available called the SmartTemp Liner, which contains a NASA-developed material for astronauts.  This new product has been shown to lower skin temperatures, so there is less sweat production.

Follow these tips and enjoy the outdoors year round.  Be sure to consult your prosthetist for recommendations specific to you and your needs.