Lifestyle Guidelines for the Prevention of Lymphedema
• Avoid excessive exposure to environmental or simulated heat, which includes: sauna, steam room and hot tub use, as well as very hot baths or showers. Also, exposure to extreme cold should be avoided.
• Wear a good sunscreen on the affected extremity to avoid burning.
• Treat any cut, scrape or burn immediately: wash the area, use an antiseptic solution and then apply antibiotic ointment, if your physician approves. Then, cover the wound for at least one day or until healing is noticeable. These measures will help you to avoid infection. Observe insect bites as well, as they could also lead to infection.
• Wear protective gloves while doing housework, gardening, or any type of work which could result in injury; for the lower extremity, avoid walking barefoot at home and while out. Also, while at the beach, wear aqua-sport shoes to avoid cutting or abrading the skin of the feet.
• Keep the extremity well hydrated with lotion on a daily basis to avoid overdrying and cracks in the skin. Also, do not pick at cuticles, or dry skin on the heels.
• Exercise is important, but do not exercise to full exertion right away. Exercise should be reintroduced gradually and sensibly into your life. Avoid the use of heavy weights and high repetitions. Swimming or water calisthenics are highly recommended.
• Avoid limb constriction on the affected arm, which includes: blood pressure readings, carrying bags over your arm, tight rings or bracelets, strong or excessive handshaking. Avoid carrying and/or excessive grasping of heavy items. Also, do not wear heavy bags over the affected shoulder; for the leg, avoid overly tight shoes or socks which cause constriction marks
• Physical awareness: maintain an ideal weight with a well-balanced low sodium diet, unless your physician suggests otherwise. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol consumption.
• Avoid having blood drawn, injections or IVs done on the affected arm, if possible. You may choose to wear a medical alert bracelet for Lymphedema.
• Avoid deep massage to the affected extremity and adjacent trunk; only Manual Lymph Drainage should be done to these areas.
• Manicures or pedicures should be done carefully. Avoid cutting the cuticles. Your own sterile tools should be used whenever possible.
• Use custom fit compression garments during times of compromise, such as: air travel, extended rigorous or occupational activity, during exercise (optional), on cruise ships (we suggest having compression garments on hand for this type of travel, as certain parts of the ship could be more or less pressurized than others) and in casinos.
• A detailed explanation of these and other guidelines is offered at our complimentary educational seminars.
Please discuss these guidelines with your physician to assure that you are cleared to follow them.
Please note that while all of the guidelines suggested above can greatly reduce your chances of acquiring Lymphedema, there is no guarantee that you will not get it. However, if you do present with early stage Lymphedema, you will be much better equipped to both control and manage the condition.