Woodlands Hospice | Hospice Care for North Liverpool, South Sefton and Kirkby in Knowsely

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Skin Care and Cellulitis Management

Just below the surface of our skin is a vast network of superficial lymphatic vessels. The vessels help to clear away any substances on the skin such as infections, allergies, biological hazards.

People with Lymphoedema are less able to clear these substances away, which increases the risk of developing infections (cellulitis). This can lead to further swelling of the affected limb(s) and repeated infections.

Therefore, meticulous skin care is vital in patients with Lymphoedema and those at risk of developing Lymphoedema.

As we age the natural moisturising factors start to diminish, and skin becomes much drier. This causes the skin to thicken and cracks can develop that can encourage bacteria (infection) to enter.

It is important to maintain healthy skin in people who suffer with Lymphoedema. This can be achieved by following these simple steps listed below:

  • Observe your skin daily; check for scratches, redness, abrasions or cuts. Treat immediately with antiseptic cream such as Savlon.
  • Monitor for signs of infection (cellulitis); check for skin changes, redness, increased swelling, flu-like symptoms, and fever. Seek urgent medical attention for antibiotic therapy.
    (For further information on Cellulitis management see the PDF links above).
  • Cleaning your skin daily; clean gently, ensuring you pay attention to any skin folds and in-between the fingers and toes. Dry your skin by patting rather than rubbing.
  • Use natural products to wash with; such as Aqueous cream, hydromol ointments/­shower wash, E45 wash, aveeno.
  • Moisturise your skin daily; moisturise every evening to ensure you keep the skin as soft and subtle as possible. Your lymphoedema nurse will prescribe you an emollient suitable for your skin type.
  • Recommended moisturises include;
    • Aveeno Cream
    • Hydromol Cream/Ointment
    • Balneum Cream
    • Epaderm Cream
    • Coconut oil BP
    • Vitamin E oil
    • Diprobase
    • Double base

Hints and tips

  • Dry your skin well, especially between toes and fingers.
  • Use an antiseptic cream immediately for burns, scratches and cuts.
  • Use an insect repellent and high factor sun lotion on holidays/­travels.
  • Use an electric razor for shaving.
  • Do not have blood samples, blood pressure or injections taken on the affected limb.
  • Avoid hot baths, sauna and sunbeds.
  • Apply cream/lotion in the evening (it will soak into your skin overnight).

Further information on skin care