Take very good care of your skin to:
- Prevent infections.
- Keep your skin healthy.
- Try not to get needles (injections or shots) or blood pressure measurements, especially if there is swelling.
- Treat cuts or burns quickly. Keep the area clean, use an antiseptic ointment (for example Polysporin) and cover with a bandage.
- If you notice redness, warmth and pain in your skin, you may be getting an infection. Talk to your health care team right away.
- Keep your skin clean and moisturized
- In the sun, wear sunscreen and long sleeves or pants
- Wear loose fitting jewellery and clothing without tight cuffs or waistbands
- Do not carry a heavy bag on the arm with lymphedema
- Do not use extreme heat or cold, such as ice packs and hot packs. Check with your health care team before using saunas, steam baths and hot tubs.
- Wear gloves when gardening or cooking so you do not get cuts or bug bites
- Do not wax. Use an electric shaver. This is unlikely to cut your skin. If you have to use a razor, use clean, sharp blades with soap or shaving cream.
These are sleeves, stockings or gauntlets (gloves). They are made of elasticized fabric that put pressure on your arm or leg. This pressure helps drain lymph fluid and stop it from building up.
You usually need to wear these garments all day.
To get a compression garment, a certified fitter needs to measure you
You can find fitters at medical supply shops or pharmacies.
If you have lymphedema from breast cancer treatment, Pharmacare may pay for two compression garments each year for each arm that has lymphedema. To get coverage you must have had:
- A mastectomy (removal of one or both of your breasts)
- A lumpectomy (removal of a part of your breast)
Pharmacare does not cover compression garments for lymphedema that is caused from anything other than breast cancer treatment.
Exercising has many benefits:
- Increases muscle tone.
- May help move lymph fluid out of your arm or leg and reduce swelling.
- Helps keep a healthy body weight.
- Talk to your health care team before starting an exercise.
- Pick exercise you enjoy.
- When you rest after exercise, raise your swollen arm or leg to help drain the excess fluid.
- Specially trained Physiotherapists and Massage Therapists who can help you manage lymphedema.
- They use compression bandages, a type of massage called manual lymphatic drainage, exercise, and skin care.
- You can get a list of certified therapists from the B.C. Lymphedema Association website.
- Your health insurance may cover the cost.
- You can find online support through the Canadian Cancer Society at www.cancerconnection.ca
- Call your local BC Cancer Patient & Family Counselling program if you want to talk to a counsellor.