The various activities that people perform do not necessarily cause lymphedema, but they can exacerbate uncomfortable symptoms. If you have undergone medical therapy such as lymph node radiation or excision or are at high risk for lymphedema due to other contributing factors, you want to know how to manage health and wellness as it relates to your condition. Here, we discuss a few things you want to do, as well as a few things you don’t.
Protect Yourself from Unforeseen Injury
- When shaving, use an electric razor rather than a razor blade.
- Be careful to keep the toenails short; considering filing toenails rather than clipping them.
- Take care when playing with pets to avoid scratches.
- Carry a few Band-Aids, local antibiotic ointment, and an alcohol swab with you.
- Avoid tattoos on the affected leg.
- The following can bring extra fluid to the leg so should be avoided:
- Hot tubs and saunas.
- Hot packs on the affected leg.
- Hot baths and showers.
- Sunbathing and tanning.
- Traditional massage should also be avoided to prevent fluid buildup.
- Try to maintain healthy body weight and avoid obesity, which can increase swelling.
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is high in fiber and low in fat and salt.
- Do not avoid protein to reduce lymphedema. This is not necessary and may lead to nutritional deficiencies.
When to See Your Doctor
There are several strategies for managing lymphedema of the leg, including periodic lymph drainage massage. However, this health condition sometimes worsens to a point at which surgery is necessary to reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Call your doctor if you:
- Develop signs of infection in the affected leg, such as red, hot skin, and a fever.
- Develop unusual changes in the skin of the leg, such as a rash or itching.
- Experience an increase of swelling or pain in the toes, foot, or leg.