It’s Getting Hot In Here – Amputee Perspiration

thermometer gage, con moto prosthetics
photo © copyright AJC1 Flickr


Amputee Perspiration

When an amputee starts to get hot and perspire in their prosthesis, the best course of action is to find some way to keep their skin as dry as possible. Amputees experience great discomfort and difficulty when they are out in the community and start to get skin irritation due to sweat. Finding a private area (bathroom, changing room) is not always agreeable to the circumstance, so here are some suggestions to help keep the residual limb dry and healthy.

When a patient starts to get hot and sweaty in their socket the best course of action is find some way to keep the skin as dry as possible.

  • Unscented, spray-on antiperspirant. Spray an antiperspirant on your residual limb prior to donning the prosthesis. Use only unscented, as scented may cause skin irritation.
  • Cornstarch. This was suggested to me by a German prosthetist in the 1980’s. Thank you, Roland Doetzer! Take a little bit of cornstarch and rub it over the residuum (just a light coat), then don the prosthesis. I used this technique recently on a young man who lives in a very warm climate. He was experiencing a small area of itchy redness that looked rash-like in an area of invagination. He started adding a small amount of cornstarch over that area before donning the liner. This effectively eliminated the itchy redness. I ascertained that the rash was caused by sweat pooling in the bottom of the liner and eventually causing irritation. The cornstarch kept the limb dry and acted as a barrier. If this area had been caused by an allergic reaction, cornstarch would have no impact on it and the itchiness would have persisted. If an amputee is experiencing areas of itchy redness, discoloration and/or bumpiness have him or her consult a doctor, as this may be an allergic reaction.
  • Use a thin nylon sheath (a prosthetist can provide one, or you can order here. An article from 1974, discusses the benefits of sheaths as a perspiration wick.
  • Drysol. A prescription antiperspirant containing aluminum chloride hexahydrate that works by affecting the cells that produce sweat. This route is usually traveled when no other option works. This product was created for people with hyperhidrosis. I have only ever met a handful of people who have used this product. For most amputees, the other mentioned options tend to fix the problem enough to where sweat is a nuisance, but tolerable.
  • Certain-Dri. An over-the-counter antiperspirant. Similar to Drysol, however a prescription is not necessary. If you have a patient who in interested in either of them, please ask them to speak with their doctor and make sure they are a good candidate for these items. With residual limb tissue it is imperative that amputees are extra cautious about what gets applied to their limb.

Should amputees experience heat-related issues, ask them to consult their doctor and prosthetist.

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