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Handling Sweat While Wearing Your Prosthesis

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August 28th, 2020

Prosthetic - Innovative Prosthetics Ameristep Prosthetics

Have you noticed sweat building up inside your prosthetic liner? Most prosthetic liners today are made of silicone gel. While this is great for suspension and absorbing forces, it can also make sweating particularly difficult to deal with. However, managing sweat is vital for your health and comfort. There are several tips for keeping sweat at bay when wearing your prosthesis, so you can find some strategies that work for you.

The Dangers of Sweat in Your Prosthesis

Sweating inside your prosthetic liner can be uncomfortable. The sticky, warm feeling of sweating can be downright unpleasant, especially when dealing with hot, humid weather. In addition, many are worried that others will notice the sweat and may feel embarrassed. These are common concerns that may affect anyone. However, sweat buildup in your prosthesis can also cause other, more serious problems.

How Sweat Affects Your Skin

Sweating is your body’s natural cooling system. You produce sweat and cool off as it evaporates. However, sweat can also have negative impacts on the skin. Sweat contains substances like ammonia, urea, and sodium. When left on the skin too long, these substances can cause irritation and inflammation.

In addition, the moisture in sweat can start to soften your skin as it builds up inside your liner. This softening can make you more susceptible to blisters and skin breakdown on your residual limb. In addition, when you sweat inside your prosthetic liner, it creates a warm, moist environment that germs love. Therefore, you may be at a higher risk for infections when sweating inside your prosthetic liner.

Sweat Can Affect the Fit of Your Liner

In addition, sweat buildup inside your prosthetic liner can also affect how your prosthesis fits. Your liner fits snugly to help prevent your residual limb from moving around inside the liner. This is to help reduce friction and also to help ensure proper fit. Sweat can make your residual limb and the inside of the liner slick and allow it to slip. This can make the socket fit differently, which affects suspension. Also, it can cause even more skin irritation. In some cases, the liner may even slip off entirely due to excess sweat buildup inside the liner. Therefore, managing perspiration is important to help prevent issues with your prosthesis and to improve overall comfort.

Tips for Managing Sweat

You can’t stop yourself from sweating completely. Therefore, it’s crucial to find strategies to help manage sweat while wearing your prosthesis. One of the first things you should do is work with your prosthetist to ensure your liner fits properly. An ill-fitting prosthetic liner can make you sweat more, allow sweat to pool up inside the liner more, and also may also cause more skin irritation. If your liner fits properly, then there are some other steps you can take to help minimize sweat buildup in your prosthesis.

Take Breaks

First, it’s important to take breaks. Whether you’re playing a sport or walking around, be sure you stop every so often. This will help give you time to dry your residual limb and liner. It also gives you an opportunity to rest if you’re sweating excessively due to exertion. Taking periodic breaks throughout the day will allow you to remove sweat buildup to reduce the risk of liner slippage and skin irritation. Pausing to dry off can also help reduce moisture inside your liner that may promote bacterial and fungal growth. Breaks can also help reduce how much you sweat by allowing you to rest from physical exertion, especially if you can find a cool or shady area to cool off in. 

Bring a Kit of Extra Supplies

Another important tip for sweat management while wearing your prosthesis is to have a “sweat kit.” This is just some extra supplies that can help with the effects of sweating inside your prosthetic liner. For example, carrying a few washcloths with you can make a huge difference. Having a dry cloth around can help you dry off your residual limb and gel liner.

In addition, having extra prosthetic sheaths and socks on hand can help improve comfort and help reduce sweat buildup. Being able to put on a dry sheath and/or sock when the one you’re wearing is soaked through can help reduce skin irritation and liner slipping. You may also want to carry a spare liner if you have one so you can change into it should you start sweating really profusely. You may also want to try using some of the newer wicking socks that absorb sweat to help keep your prosthesis sweat-free. Anything that you think may help you stay dry is worth bringing in a small bag so you can feel comfortable and reduce the risks of sweat buildup in your prosthetic liner.

Antiperspirant

In some cases, you may also want to use antiperspirant products on your residual limb. However, you should check with your physician to determine if this is a good idea based on your specific circumstances. Your doctor and your prosthetist can help you find an antiperspirant that works for you, as there are many different kinds out there.

For example, many antiperspirants contain chemicals that can breakdown gel liners. If you decide to use these products, then you will need to apply it at night so it can fully dry by morning when you put on your liner. Additionally, prescription-strength antiperspirants, which you can buy over the counter, are great at helping minimize sweat, but can also dry out your skin.

Antiperspirants can help reduce the amount of sweat your residual limb produces, which can help ease the effects of sweat buildup in your prosthetic liner. The less you sweat, the less chance you’ll experience the negative impacts of excessive sweat buildup and the less you will need to worry about staying dry.

Washing Your Liner

You’ve likely heard quite a bit about properly washing your liner, but it’s even more important when it’s hot outside and when you’re dealing with excessive sweat. As we’ve mentioned before, sweaty prosthetic liners can be a breeding ground for all sorts of germs that can cause infection on your residual limb. Also, as sweat evaporates, it leaves salts like sodium, chloride, and potassium behind, which can cause skin irritation and also unpleasant odors. Therefore, if you notice you’re sweating a lot, it’s crucial that you thoroughly wash and dry your liner every day. In some cases, you may even need to wash your liner twice a day for particularly hot and sweaty days. Washing your liner regularly and properly can help remove germs to reduce the risk of infection.

At Innovative Prosthetics, we provide personalized, convenient prosthetic care to help you thrive with your prosthesis. Our team believes in compassion, dedication, care, and integrity to help improve mobility and quality of life. Our passion is providing exceptional care at every step of the way so you can keep living forward. Schedule an appointment today with our amazing team at Innovative Prosthetics. We are here for you.

Every prosthesis is unique just like our patients.

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