In the summer, heat and humidity may change certain aspects of your prosthetic use. It’s normal to sweat more and experience slight changes in fit during this time, and you’ve likely been preparing for these weather-related developments since we first discussed them this spring.

Now that the hottest weather is upon us, we’re diving deeper into care tips to help you manage high temperatures and sweat this season.

The Heat’s Affecting My Prosthetic: Five Strategies to Help

Try moisture-wicking materials.

“There’s sweat in my prosthetic” — This is a concern we hear from amputees frequently. Typically, sweat pools in the gel or silicone liner between your limb and the prosthesis, where it can lead to slipping and discomfort. Over time, this sweat accumulation can also foster the development of bacteria, which could lead to infections.

One solution to consider is a moisture-wicking sock. While it won’t stop sweat from forming, it can help wick moisture away, keeping your skin and liner dryer. Consider having several socks on hand so you can change them throughout the day, and wash them after each use following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Although moisture-wicking socks designed for residual limbs may offer the best fit, some amputees have success with other fabrics, too. In a pinch, you might consider using a cotton handkerchief, or even placing nursing pads between your residual limb and your liner to absorb moisture.

Apply an antiperspirant.

Antiperspirants can prevent sweating, but the stick type you purchase from a drugstore may fall short. Instead, look for a clinical-strength formula with an astringent such as methenamine, which has been found to limit sweating in residual limbs. Apply the product at night to give it time to activate on your skin.

Wash and dry your liner thoroughly.

“To eliminate bacteria, your gel or silicone liner should be washed after each day of wear,” Eric Chen, Director of VSA Prosthetics, recommends. “Use warm water and a drop of soap to thoroughly clean both sides, then pat it dry using a lint-free towel. Allow it to air dry with the gel or liner facing in, since prolonged exposure to the air will accelerate its wear and may lead to cracks.”

When it comes to selecting a soap for your liner, you have many options to consider. There are prosthetic cleansers designed specifically for use on silicone and gel, but some amputees find that these products cause skin irritation. Test new products on a small patch of your skin first. If you’re concerned about irritation, Dawn dish soap is a gentle alternative to try.

Take breaks.

Even with the strategies above, sweat can be stubborn. Give your residual limb some air throughout long periods of wear by taking ten-minute breaks. If possible, use this time to wash your skin with mild soap and water and allow it to air dry.

Watch for skin changes.

Check your skin each morning and evening for signs of irritation, such as red patches or blisters. Specially-formulated dressings can be applied to prevent skin breakdown, but avoid using any oils, lotions, or talc powder on your residual limb. These products can create excess friction or otherwise affect the fit of your prosthetic.

Schedule an Appointment With Vascular Surgical Associates 

Part of ensuring that you can thrive with your prosthetic is first ensuring you have the right fit. The prosthetic care team from Vascular Surgical Associates is here to support you through each step of your journey, from your custom prosthetic design to follow-up care. To request an appointment, use our online form or call 770-423-0595.