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1. Keep the entire at-risk quadrant spotlessly
clean. Natural gentle cleansing products are
strongly encouraged. Dry skin in a gentle but
thorough non-vigorous fashion. Pay special
attention to creases in the skin and the areas
between toes and fingers.

2. Make certain all fabric making contact
with the skin is regularly laundered. This
includes bandages and compression

3. Use a top quality moisturizing lotion to
help maintain the integrity of the skin. The
lotion you choose should not contain alcohol,
dyes, lanolin, mineral oil, petroleum products,
talc, or perfumes. (Note that pure essential
oils have a fragrance, but are not considered
perfumes.) The lotion should also have
antiseptic properties and correct ph. If you
have lymphedema, apply it before and after
removing bandages or compression garments
and after bathing.

4. Avoid chemical hair removers. If possible,
use a well maintained electric razor, replacing
the heads regularly. Because of the danger of
cuts and nicks, we do not recommend using a
regular razor. If you do use one, wash the
blades in hot soapy water, and change them

5. Avoid extreme temperature changes when;
a. Bathing, showering, swimming.
b. Washing anything; dishes, floors,
laundry, etc.
c. Receiving therapeutic treatments.
d. At the gym; no sauna or hot tub.


6. Protect the affected quadrant from weather extremes;
a. In hot weather seek air conditioning and keep the limb cool.
b. In cold weather seek central heating. If you must go out, have
the at risk quadrant well bundled, but not sweaty.
c. In sunny weather, protect the limb with sun screen and/or

7. Medical care, such as injections, blood pressure, drawing blood,
allergy tests, etc., needs to be performed on an unaffected limb.
(Note: A leg can often be used if both arms are at-risk.) Any
procedure which punctures the skin in the affected quadrant is to be
avoided, including acupuncture.

8. Avoid all tight clothing, jewelry, and elastic bands on the affected
limb, including watches, rings and binding stockings.

9. Be careful cutting nails. Do not nick skin or cut cuticles. If
someone does your nails for you, inform them of your risk. If you
must push back cuticles, use a cuticle stick covered with cotton.

10. Avoid all types of trauma; cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, including
sun burns, sports injuries, insect bites, all animal bites and scratches,
and forceful impact. This does not mean withdrawing from living,
but be sensible and protect yourself; use seatbelts, use a thimble if
you sew, wear rubber gloves when washing dishes or gardening, wear
closed shoes to avoid foot injury for an at-risk leg. Wear insect
repellent when outdoors, sunscreen and clothing to cover an at-risk
quadrant. Any measure you can take to prevent the onset of
lymphedema is worth the effort, as it can mean avoiding a lifetime of
maintenance and pain.

11. Avoid pushing, pulling, or lifting with the affected limb. Do not
kick or slide heavy packages with an affected leg. Do not use over the
shoulder straps on an affected arm. Do not lift anything over 15
pounds, less if you are out of shape or the weather is hot and humid.
This includes the lifting of babies, children and pets. Carry
packages, purses, or briefcases only on your unaffected side, and ask
baggers at the store to place your bags in the car for you.

12. Exercise is important. However, if the affected limb begins to
ache or feels tired, rest it immediately, and elevate it if possible.
Consult a lymphedema specialist before proceeding with an exercise
routine. Safe recommendations are walking, swimming or water
exercise. If you have lymphedema, it is important to be bandaged
during exercise.


13. Avoid any repetitive movements, especially those against

14. Never do anything to exhaustion. Your at-risk quadrant will
fatigue more quickly than the rest of your body, and will take longer
to recover from physical exertion. If your arm or leg begins to ache,
rest and elevate the limb. If elevation does not alleviate the symptoms,
see your physician.

15. Barometric pressure is reduced at high altitudes, and can lead to
the onset of lymphedema, or exacerbate the condition. Therefore, a
compression garment is extremely important if you travel by air, or
hike in high altitudes. This is recommended even if you don't have
lymphedema. It becomes essential if you have lymphedema, even if
the swelling has subsided. In this case, you should consider wearing
bandages when flying, as they offer greater protection than a
compression garment. For an at-risk limb, over the counter garments
are available for a modest cost. This small step may prevent a lifetime
of maintenance.

16. If you have had an axillary dissection you may want to wear soft
pads under your bra straps, as this protects the lymph nodes and
vessels around the collar bone. Avoid wearing a heavy prosthesis, or
under wire supports.

17. If you live in a damp or humid climate, and your skin is
frequently moist, try dusting the skin with cornstarch. This also
works for feet during the summer months. Keeping the skin dry
helps reduce fungi.

18. Maintain your ideal weight and drink plenty of pure water. The
recommended quantity of water is one ounce for every two pounds of
body weight. Example: If you weigh 128 pounds, drink 64 ounces, or
two quarts of water daily. If you do not normally drink this much
water, increase intake gradually until the recommended quantity is


19. Many patients have a misunderstanding about protein. They believe that because lymphedema is a
high protein edema, they should avoid eating protein. This is not true. While we do not recommend a
high protein diet, a no protein diet will weaken connective tissues and cells. This in turn will make the
condition worse. We recommend a diet in which easily disgestible proteins make up between 10 and 30
percent of your total caloric intake. Know when to get help.

20. It can be helpful to have a professional assessment annually. If you have a leg at risk, visiting a
podiatrist can insure that your feet stay healthy. Be sure to inform him or her that you are at risk for
developing lymphedema.

21. MLD, manual lymph drainage, is a recognized therapy not only as a treatment for lymphedema, but
for prevention as well. If you have had lymph nodes removed, your immune system is compromised.
MLD helps to increase immune response. Other forms of massage therapy should be avoided on the
at-risk quadrant, because they temporarily shut down the lymph vessels in that area. These include deep
tissue, reflexology, rolfing, shiatsu, Swedish, etc.

22. Thoroughly examine the affected quadrant monthly. Do not ignore
any swelling in the affected arm, leg, chest wall, armpit, back, groin,
abdomen or genitals. Report any swelling immediately. Or, if any of
the following are present; redness, inflammation, blistering, rash,
warmth in the limb, fever, change in the texture of the skin, or lymph
leakage through the skin, see your oncologist or physician immediately.
Any of these can be the onset or worsening of lymphedema.

23. The lymph system is an important part of your immune system,
and removal of lymph nodes compromises your immune response in
the at risk quadrant. If you get a cut, scrape, or other break in the skin,
use a topical antibiotic, and notify your physician at once. He or she
will probably prescribe an antibiotic to reduce your risk of developing
an infection. Remember, an infection in an at-risk limb or quadrant
can lead to the onset of lymphedema if it is not treated promptly.

24. Lymphedema is often preventable, or at least can be postponed
for many years. If you notice any slight increase in fingers, hand,
arm, chest wall, back, toes, feet, ankles, abdomen, or genitals, see
your physician for a proper diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with
lymphedema, seek treatment. Lymphedema is easier to control at
its onset, as further deterioration can be prevented and often an
initial reversal is possible. Your limb will still be at risk, but you
will remain symptom free. Remember what renowned lymphologist
Dr. Foldi has written, "There is no insignificant swelling."


Join us as we work for lymphedema patients everywehere:

Advocates for Lymphedema

Dedicated to be an advocacy group for lymphedema patients. Working towards education, legal reform, changing insurance practices, promoting research, reaching for a cure.


Pat O'Connor

Lymphedema People / Advocates for Lymphedema


For information about Lymphedema\

For Information about Lymphedema Complications

For Lymphedema Personal Stories

For information about How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound

For information about Lymphedema Treatment

For information about Exercises for Lymphedema

For information on Infections Associated with Lymphedema

For information on Lymphedema in Children

Lymphedema Glossary


Lymphedema People - Support Groups


Children with Lymphedema

The time has come for families, parents, caregivers to have a support group of their own. Support group for parents, families and caregivers of chilren with lymphedema. Sharing information on coping, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis. Sponsored by Lymphedema People.



Lipedema Lipodema Lipoedema

No matter how you spell it, this is another very little understood and totally frustrating conditions out there. This will be a support group for those suffering with lipedema/lipodema. A place for information, sharing experiences, exploring treatment options and coping.

Come join, be a part of the family!




If you are a man with lymphedema; a man with a loved one with lymphedema who you are trying to help and understand come join us and discover what it is to be the master instead of the sufferer of lymphedema.



All About Lymphangiectasia

Support group for parents, patients, children who suffer from all forms of lymphangiectasia. This condition is caused by dilation of the lymphatics. It can affect the intestinal tract, lungs and other critical body areas.



Lymphatic Disorders Support Group @ Yahoo Groups

While we have a number of support groups for lymphedema... there is nothing out there for other lymphatic disorders. Because we have one of the most comprehensive information sites on all lymphatic disorders, I thought perhaps, it is time that one be offered.


Information and support for rare and unusual disorders affecting the lymph system. Includes lymphangiomas, lymphatic malformations, telangiectasia, hennekam's syndrome, distichiasis, Figueroa
syndrome, ptosis syndrome, plus many more. Extensive database of information available through sister site Lymphedema People.



Lymphedema People New Wiki Pages

Have you seen our new “Wiki” pages yet?  Listed below are just a sample of the more than 140 pages now listed in our Wiki section. We are also working on hundred more.  Come and take a stroll! 

Lymphedema Glossary 


Arm Lymphedema 

Leg Lymphedema 

Acute Lymphedema 

The Lymphedema Diet 

Exercises for Lymphedema 

Diuretics are not for Lymphedema 

Lymphedema People Online Support Groups 



Lymphedema and Pain Management 

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) and Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT) 

Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

How to Treat a Lymphedema Wound 

Fungal Infections Associated with Lymphedema 

Lymphedema in Children 


Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

Extraperitoneal para-aortic lymph node dissection (EPLND) 

Axillary node biopsy

Sentinel Node Biopsy

 Small Needle Biopsy - Fine Needle Aspiration 

Magnetic Resonance Imaging 

Lymphedema Gene FOXC2

 Lymphedema Gene VEGFC

 Lymphedema Gene SOX18

 Lymphedema and Pregnancy

Home page: Lymphedema People

Page Updated: Dec. 15, 2011