Amputee Perspectives: The importance of establishing a skin and liner hygiene routine

The day I got my first prosthesis, I sat impatiently and in a daydream state, waiting for my prosthetist to finish his lecture on how to properly care for my liner, the words he used sounding like nothing more than noise as I waited to be told I could finally take her (Lucy) home. I vaguely remember something about cleaning the liner but, it was still brand new and didn’t seem important at the moment. I had a new toy to play with and lots of walking to do. Then the rashes started. I promptly returned for a re-do on my liner care lesson, this time much more focused on how to prevent the sweaty, smelly, itchy mess I was now dealing with.

Most liners are designed without any gaps for the skin to breathe, essentially trapping sweat and creating the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and unpleasant smells along with it. Skin infections develop and cause uncomfortable irritation and itching sending you straight to your doctor for a prescription and forcing you to keep your leg off for days at a time. So, what can you do to save yourself the trouble?

“Establishing a skin and liner hygiene routine is essential if you want to stay on the move and live your life to the fullest!”

  1. Wash your liner – Use a liner-safe, soap-free cleanser like The Liner Wand Cleansing Solution and system to get rid of any debris, oils, and bacteria that have decided to claim your liner as their home. You will need to clean the liner daily unless you are using the liner wand system (skipping a few days is no biggie because of the antimicrobial coating you apply), I recommend washing before bed, so you can allow the liner ample time to air dry. It’s best to stay away from towels that can add bacteria and debris back in or create a non-ideal surface for your apocrine application.
  2. Don’t forget your leg-When you’re in the shower, don’t skip your residual limb. Remember, it has been inside your liner all day. Wash with a gentle, fragrance-free skin cleanser every day, and avoid using super-hot water if you have any irritation or blisters present.
  3. Bedtime skincare- Use a fragrance-free lotion and skin salve before bed to moisturize your residual limb and maintain a healthy skin barrier. This will keep your skin from becoming overly sensitive and help fight skin breakdown.
  4. If and when you get a serious rash or blisters- It’s important to let your skin breathe as much as possible. If you are just getting started with your liner hygiene routine, you may have pretty reactive skin and be dealing with persistent rash or blisters. Whenever you don’t need to be up and moving or can use crutches or a wheelchair, take off your prosthesis and liner and allow your skin to breathe. Cleanse the area, apply a skin salve and catch up on the latest Netflix series or grab your laptop and get back to work. Getting a good routine going will cut down on skin issues. The more TLC you give your limb and liner, the more places they will take you!