Can I prevent lymphedema?

While there are no known ways to prevent lymphedema, the best defense against complications is to be extra careful about preventing injury, trauma, infection or cuts on the hand and skin of the arm. Here's how:

  • Keep your arm and hand clean and moisturized.
  • Avoid cuts or punctures of the skin; for example, avoid cutting cuticles, drawing blood or receiving intravenous medications in the affected arm.
  • Avoid excessive pressure on the arm, such as tight fitting clothes or jewelry, blood pressure monitors, heavy handbags or shoulder straps.
  • Wear gloves or protective handgear for any activity where the affected hand might be exposed or vulnerable (e.g., gardening, dishwashing, cooking, housecleaning, sewing, sports).
  • Avoid sunburn and tan gradually. Wear sunscreen with at least SPF-15.
  • Avoid burns of any kind.
  • Avoid insect bites. Carry insect repellent with you throughout the summer.
  • Avoid extreme heat, cold or sudden temperature changes.
  • Avoid salty foods. Salt retains fluid.
  • Avoid lifting more than 10 pounds, either by carrying heavy items or lifting weights at the gym.
  • Avoid activities with constant repetition. Give your arm an occasional rest if you can't avoid repetition.