The environment inside your prosthesis liner can either help or hinder your comfort and mobility. A prosthesis liner stays in close contact with the skin for hours. During that time, moisture, heat, and friction create opportunities for irritation and infection. A clean liner and equally clean skin can prevent painful, mobility-limiting problems. How to clean your prosthesis liner begins before the liner ever touches the skin.
A Clean Prosthesis Liner Starts with Clean, Healthy Skin
Before a prosthesis liner ever touches your residual, prepare the skin by:
- Washing with a gentle cleanser that’s free of harsh chemicals and fragrances.
- Completely drying the skin.
- Applying a moisturizer that fights bacteria and fungal infections, like VitalFit’s Day Moisturizer.
Residual skin care revolves around “maintaining a balance of your skin. Not too oily or too dry,” said physical therapist Cosi Belloso in a 2020 VitalFit Support Group Live Event that also featured clinical prosthetist, Paralympic champion, and amputee Greg Mannino. Healthy skin acts as a protective barrier against bacterial and fungal infections. The skin’s strength and flexibility allow it to maintain its integrity while withstanding the forces placed on the residual limb.
Over time, you may need to change your daily skincare routine. Remember, “It’s a dynamic situation. [Skin] is constantly changing. The skin you had in your teens is not the skin you have in your 30s, 40s, and 50s,” said Belloso.
A daily skincare routine boosts the skin’s health but also makes you aware of skin changes. At certain times of the year or after heavy activity, you may require more moisturizer or a liquid-to-powder product to create a protective friction barrier between the skin and the liner.
Wash the Prosthesis Liner Daily
Take the liner into the shower or bath with you.
For convenience, both Belloso and Mannino recommend taking the liner into the shower or bath with you. It’s convenient and can easily become part of your daily routine.
Clean the liner with a gentle daily cleanser.
“Clean, clean, clean. The cleaner, the better the performance,” said Mannino. Your goal is to wash out perspiration, skin cells, bacteria, and fungus that could cause irritation, odor, and infection. You can use the same cleanser on the liner that you use on your skin. If it’s gentle enough for the skin, it’s gentle enough for the liner.
Rinse. Rinse. Rinse.
“I tell my clients to rinse, rinse, rinse, and then rinse one more time,” said Belloso. Soap or cleanser residue can irritate the skin, so it’s important to remove it all.
Once you’ve rinsed the liner completely, have a liner stand just outside the shower so it can dry.
Clean More Than the Prosthesis Liner
The liner isn’t the only part of the prosthesis that needs consistent sanitizing. Wash the socket, sock, sleeve, and anything else that comes into contact with your skin. Again, the same cleanser you use on your skin can work on other prosthesis’ components.
However, some things like socks and sleeves may also be machine washable. If that’s the case, you can save yourself washing time. However, you may need more than one to wear while the other gets cleaned.
Prosthesis Liner FAQ
How do I control perspiration in my liner?
Your first defense is good skin care. Start with clean, moisturized skin. If you live in a hot climate or know you’ll be perspiring, try a liquid-to-powder lotion that manages perspiration and creates a friction barrier between the skin and liner. You can carry a travel size bottle with you so you can reapply throughout the day. Frequent showers throughout the day are also an option on hot, humid days.
What can I do for chafing and rubbing in the groin area?
Above the knee amputations are particularly prone to irritation in the groin area. Good containment and fit of the prosthesis make a big difference. Start by talking to your prosthetist, especially if the rubbing is a daily issue unrelated to excessive activity. Even if it is due to extra activity, it’s worth discussing with a prosthetist.
Try a liquid-to-powder product on your skin before donning your liner and prosthesis. This product’s friction barrier can reduce chafing almost anywhere on the body.
Should I clean my prosthesis liner more than once a day?
Clean your prosthesis liner at least once a day. In certain circumstances, you may need to wash your liner and residual two or three times a day. For example, you may need to wash your liner or sock mid-day or replace them mid-day if you’re hiking or participating in strenuous activity.
A Final Note
Everyone’s skin is different. It may take time to learn what skincare and liner-cleaning regimen works best for you. Pay careful attention to the condition of your skin. It can often be the first sign of a brewing problem with your prosthesis or liner. Good skin care and a clean prosthesis liner help maintain your mobility. When they get daily attention, you can stay ahead of skin or prosthesis fit problems while enjoying an active lifestyle.