How to Care for Delicate Residual Skin as You Age

How to Care for Delicate Residual Skin as You Age

Amputation puts forces on your residual’s skin that it was never meant to withstand. A dedicated skincare routine is an integral part of preventing the potential irritation and infection that comes from the pressure, forces, and humidity of a prosthesis socket. 

However, your skin isn’t a static system. You don’t have the same skin now that you did ten years ago. That means your skincare routine may need to change as you age. However, to adapt your skincare routine, you’ll need to have a good one in the first place.

Develop a Regular Residual Skincare Routine

Girl with limb loss

Regular skin care prepares your residual skin for the forces demanded of daily prosthesis wear. If you don’t already, it’s time to develop your own skincare routine that includes:

  1. Daily Skin Checks

Before donning your prosthesis and at the end of the day, check your residual’s skin. Look for irritation, hot spots, discoloration that doesn’t disappear after about ten minutes, or unusual odor. 

If something doesn’t seem right, give your doctor or prosthetist a call. These checks alert you to early signs of bacterial or fungal infection, chafing, and other skin irritations that lead to more serious complications. 

  1. Cleanse and Dry

Wash and dry your residual at least once a day with a gentle cleanser that’s free of irritating chemicals and fragrances. Completely dry the skin after cleansing. 

  1. Moisturize

After the skin is completely dry, moisturize it to help it maintain its strength and integrity. Use a night moisturizer that promotes healing before bed and a day moisturizer with antifungal and antibacterial ingredients before donning your prosthesis in the morning.  

  1. Address Trouble Spots

Don’t ignore trouble spots. If excessive activity is irritating the skin, try a liquid-to-powder product that creates a protective friction barrier. It’s time to call the doctor or prosthetist if you cannot heal a trouble spot on your own. 

Amputee Skin Changes As You Age (and So Should Your Skin Care Routine)

Amputee or not, your skin will change as you age. Amputation puts a magnifying glass on those changes, requiring extra vigilance on your part to maintain your skin’s health. 

Young Children

An amputation during childhood presents a few unique challenges to the residual skin, first and foremost—growth. Daily skin checks should include special attention to changes in the bone.  As children grow, the bone may put pressure on the residual skin and other soft tissues as it grows. Be particularly vigilant during growth spurts. Daily skin checks can alert you to any developing issues that could limit future mobility. 

Teen Amputees

Teens are still growing, too. However, they face the extra skin changes of adolescence. Adolescent skin perspires more, becomes oily, and has an increase in hair growth. Skin checks need to include looking for and preventing in-grown hairs. Showers or cleansing of the residual may need to happen more than once a day to prevent sweat and oil from causing skin irritation. 

Acne may become an issue on the residual, and regular acne products may be too harsh for delicate residual skin. Talk with a dermatologist to develop a treatment plan. 

Teens are also in an incredibly active and social part of their lives. If teens can detect skin problems early, it can maintain their mobility and independence. That lets them participate in activities with their peers without feeling limited by their amputation.

Adult Amputees

Younger male amputee with dog in countryside.

Adults don’t have the same oily, unpredictable skin as a teenager, but the skin still needs regular care. The skin loses elasticity and often becomes drier with age. Keep up those daily skin checks to spot trouble areas before they become a more serious issue. Watch for ossification, the development of bone growths that put added pressure on the skin.

Moisturizers will help keep the skin soft, supple, and strong. Carry a travel bottle with you, so you can moisturize during the day if needed. On particularly active days, you may need to apply a liquid-to-powder product to absorb sweat and protect the skin from chafing. 

Older Adult Amputees

The skin continues to lose elasticity and becomes thinner as you continue to age. Thin, dry, delicate skin is ripe for chafing, blisters, and other painful skin irritations. Keep up with daily skin checks. Use a mirror to help if mobility becomes an issue. 

Be extra vigilant about moisturizing the skin to keep it strong. Carry a moisturizer with you at all times, and check the residual’s skin frequently. If the skin starts to thin, try a liquid-to-powder product to provide an extra barrier. Also, talk to your dermatologist to see what else you can do to strengthen the skin. 

A Final Note

Regular skin care is the first line of defense against mobility issues. Keep up with those skin checks, and treat your skin as the priceless protector that it is. When you adapt your skincare routine as you age, you’re building a foundation of health that keeps you active.

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