SWEAT MANAGEMENT TIPS:
By: Kelly Barmann
Sweat management can be one the most challenging of issues for the active amputee to learn to deal with. Excessive sweat is often the cause of painful friction rubs, which will likely limit your activities and can be a big concern for infections. It may be one or a combination of several of the scenarios we go over below that could be your particular issue, so be patient and keep trying until finding the perfect combo. The benefits are worth it! Remember, when trying anything new irritation can occur and in general skin irritation issues should get better not worse. If any skin irritation is experienced from using any of these methods and continues to get worse then discontinue the use of it immediately and consult a professional with experience.
1) Are you wearing an athletic sweat sock under your gel liner?
· ABR only recommends these systems for suction prosthesis systems, NOT with Pin locking systems.
· The sock should go about three inches above the knee.
· The GEL liner needs to be making direct contact with a least 3” of the skin, above the sweat sock, in order to get proper suction.
· The socks are available in 3 different level of compression and you will need to consult with you prosthetic professional to try the sizes for what fits your limb and pathology.
· The use of a sweat sock is a superior method of sweat management; however, there are some limb conditions that may cause skin irritation. If this occurs, then alternate methods for sweat management should be considered.
· If you have a shorter BK limb (less than 5” length) or you have excessive skin grafting a sweat sock may not work for you due to loss of gel liner linkage and skin graft irritation with sock materials
2) Have you tried an antiperspirant on your limb?
· Some find that applying anti-perspirant (NOT Deodorant) on the limb the night before activity helps. Generally the unscented version is the least aggravating.
· The key is the level of Aluminum in the anti-perspirant needs to be minimum of 12-15% to achieve functional decrease in perspiration
· Certain-Dri and Arrid XXtra dry have worked well and both are easily available in roll-on and spray
3) Are you keeping your ACTIVE and CASUAL/WALKING liners separate and rotating with each use?
· For exercising consistently (4-5x/ week) it is best to have 4 liners total, and designate 2 to rotate for ACTIVE wear, and the other 2 for CASUAL/ WALKING and rotate a clean one for each for every use.
· This will protect liners longevity, and maximize their use for each activity.
· This is important to keep the liners fitting very tight. The looser the liner fits the more sweat that builds up.
· It is helpful to label your walking and athletic liners with “A” and “B” to remember the rotation
4) Thickness of gel liner and type of materials affect sweat production
· Thicker gel liners increase sweat production by increased heat retention
5) What else are you wearing while exercising?
· “COTTON IS ROTTEN” – do not wear cotton undergarments
· Take a look at your underwear/ fabrics! It is a great strategy to wear running spandex beneath normal running shorts for optimal heat management as well as stability for the prosthesis. Different fabrics can make a big difference so it is worth trying several and seeing what works best for you.
· These also work well to control friction from the top edge of the socket for above the knee level amputee athletes also.
· 85/15 polyester/spandex or 80/20 polyester/spandex jockey brand H-Fly are a recommended brand that we have seen be successful for some of our top, sweatiest athletes.
6.) HOW WELL DOES YOUR PROSTHESIS FIT?
· If your prosthesis fits very loosely and you wear a 2-3 socks the increased sock layers will increase the socket environment temperature and you will sweat more.
· These additional layers create added difficulty in bending the knee for the BK athlete and increases the possibility of the sock wrinkling and creating a pinching problem or blister to the limb.
7) Are you taking pain medication?
· Many narcotic pain medications will increase the amount you sweat and impact your ability to truly assess your athletic performance. ABR does not recommend training and high impact exercise if you require pain medications for daily activity. ABR recommends you consult your PCP or medical doctor supervising your care to discuss a strategy to eliminate pain medication from your medication routine before attempting a strict exercise routine
8) Headband for BK athlete (THIGHBAND)
· Try using a HEADBAND or any type SWEATBAND around the thigh to prevent sweat travel. Place the headband just above the gel liner on the thigh skin to catch sweat before it gets to the gel liner.
· This is the same concept as how a headband would keep sweat out of eyes.
9) trim the hair from your entire body and especially residual limb
· Do not use a razor. Use hair clippers with the smallest guard. Start with a taller guard at first and as your skin get used to the irritation work your way down to smaller guards
10) OTHER TIPS FOR SWEAT MANAGEMENT
It is also important to remember that in addition to these tips, other factors that are directly involved in the process of sweating:
· How current is your amputation? When you lost your limb you lost millions of sweat pores from the lost skin that helped dissipate heat and your body still has to remove the same amount of heat so the remaining sweat pores have to increase production to make up for lost sweat pores. Your body adapts but this process take months.
· The foods you are eating, and your hydration level will also have an effect on your sweat. Stay hydrated and become mindful of how what you consume affects your body.
· Obviously, as indoor and outdoor temperatures and humidity change in your environment, so will your bodies reaction, so always consider how to maximize your choices for the time of day and location to work out.