A little (or a lot of) extra perspiration is very common after limb loss. Loss of cooling surface area, heat trapped in the socket and liner, and the extra effort it takes to move with a prosthetic all contribute to heat buildup. That heat affects the fit of your socket, which impacts your comfort and mobility. A better understanding of how perspiration affects your socket, along with a few tips to manage that extra moisture, can keep you on the move and comfortable.
Perspiration and Your Socket Fit
You can’t escape perspiration. It’s your body’s way of cooling itself. You also can’t get away from the fact that you create more heat when wearing a prosthesis, whether on the lower or upper body.
The increase in body temperature that comes with wearing a prosthesis leads to more perspiration, creating a slick surface in the socket liner. Even a well-fit, highly-breathable liner can shift and generate added friction as moisture builds up.
The friction/perspiration combination lends itself to chafing and irritation. Chafing might seem like a small injury, but it often causes problems with upper body movement for those with upper body limb loss and ground clearance. When it’s painful to lift your leg high enough, you alter your gait (walking stance) to reduce the pain associated with chafing.
Those changes require more energy than a healthy gait pattern. The increased energy requirement raises your body temperature, and the excess perspiration and chafing continue.
It can turn into a vicious cycle that may only stop when you take a break from your prosthesis so the skin can heal. However, that won’t stop the cycle of perspiration once you’re ready to wear your prosthesis again.
How to Manage Perspiration for Better Socket Fit
Check the Fit of Your Socket
Excess perspiration and chafing could be a sign of a fit problem. If your socket isn’t adjusted just right, it more easily shifts and chafes when you perspire. Many factors can change the fit of a socket that only a few months previously worked beautifully, such as:
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- A change in seasons
- A change in activity levels
Talk to your doctor or prosthetist to discuss the fit of your socket. Small adjustments can make a big difference in your comfort and mobility when you’re perspiring. Check out the VitalFitSR’s Socket to Me video, with physical therapist Cosi Belloso and prosthetist and Paralympic champion Greg Mannino for more information on socket types and fit.
Check the Fit of Your Liner (and Liner Type)
The fit of your liner could also be part of the perspiration equation. The liner is in direct contact with your skin. They’re made in several types, and some types work better with different types of prosthetics and activities than others.
Some liners are soft and flexible, and others are stiff but offer more durability. The prosthesis type and the type of activities you do while wearing the prosthesis can affect which type of liner works best.
This is another case of making a call to your prosthetist or doctor to discuss your fit and liner type. A change in your liner based on your activities may be what you need to increase comfort and potentially decrease perspiration. Belloso and Mannino provide more insight into liners and sleeves in VitalFit’s Liners and Sleeves and Suspensions, Oh My! Video.
Prepare and Take Care of Your Residual Skin
The skin on your residual undergoes higher levels of friction, tension, and stress than it was meant to withstand. It requires regular care to stay strong and flexible. Remember to:
- Keep the skin clean: Wash your residual every day with a gentle cleanser. Soaps may have ingredients that dry the skin, leaving it prone to cracking and infection. VitalFit’s Daily Cleanser is a great option that contains antifungal, antimicrobial ingredients that also reduce inflammation and odor.
- Moisturizer day and night: Flexible skin requires regular moisturizing. Moisturize your skin with VitalFit Day Moisturizer before donning your prosthesis. This formula contains ingredients that fight bacteria and microbes combined with moisturizing and hydrating benefits to soothe and strengthen the skin. Moisturize the skin before bed, too. While you sleep, your skin heals. VitalFit’s Night Moisturizer contains healing ingredients that support the skin’s rejuvenating process.
- Take action to prevent chafing: VitalFit Liquid-to-Powder Plus creates a friction barrier between your skin and liner. Apply it after moisturizing the skin and before donning your prosthesis. It’s great for everyday application or for occasions when you know you’ll be perspiring more than usual.
The Perspiration Takeaway
Excess perspiration doesn’t need to sideline you from your favorite activities. Take steps to manage perspiration. If you’re experiencing pain or chafing, talk to your prosthetist to eliminate any potential fit issues. A proactive approach to perspiration management can keep you comfortable and mobile even when you’re active or the temperatures go on the rise.