Prevention from Lymphedema

There are certain measures that you can take to prevent the onset of secondary lymphedema. If you are being treated for cancer, ask your doctor whether the surgery or radiation therapy you will undergo will affect your lymph nodes or lymph vessels. This will help you to be aware of potential risks. You can reduce the risk of lymphedema by taking certain precautions. Some of these are:

  • Wear gloves while doing any housework. This will lessen the chances of injuries and subsequent infections.
  • Take care while cutting your nails and avoid cutting your cuticles.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water at frequent intervals especially after using the bathroom, touching soiled clothes or cooking. This will lessen the chance of infection.
  • Protect your skin from scratches, burns, sores or any other injury that can result in an infection.
  • Report any sign of infection to your doctor immediately.
  • Avoid medical procedures like injections on the affected limb.
  • Avoid heat such as that provided by an infrared lamp or heating pad on the affected limb.
  • After cancer treatment, avoid heavy activity with that limb.
  • Keep the affected limb elevated whenever possible. If possible, keep it elevated above the level of the heart. This will allow gravity to help drain the lymphatic fluid out of the affected limb.
  • Avoid tight clothing.
  • Do not have your blood pressure reading taken at the affected arm. Use the other arm instead.
  • Do not walk barefoot.