Lymphorrhea can be a debilitating as well as an alarming condition but can be effectively treated.
What is it?
The light, amber-coloured fluid that is beading and trickling from your skin is called lymph. The leaking or weeping of this protein-rich lymph is known as lymphorrhea
Why does it occur?
Disruption to the skin surface such as Insect bites, abrasions, cuts, wounds, or cracks in the skin can enable the lymph fluid to seep out. Other times it can be when the limb is very swollen and tight and there are no other options but to leak out via the skin.
What complications can it cause?
If there is open skin it is essential to treat this so as to avoid cellulitis. Also if the skin becomes soggy due to the fluid there is a risk of skin break down.
The skin may feel very cold, wet and uncomfortable. If there is constant dripping of fluid it can soak through dressings which may need changing many times a day. The fluid can collect in shoes/slippers. Clothing and bed linen can become soaked and require frequent changes.
Lymphorrhea may cause social difficulties and embarrassment
The area around the ‘leak’ needs to be cleaned carefully to ensure the risk of infection is reduced.
An emollient (moisturizing cream/lotion) should be applied to the skin to improve the condition and protect it (by acting as a barrier) against further skin breakdown.
A non-adherent, absorbent sterile dressing should be applied to the leaking area to prevent further trauma to the skin – and to absorb the leakage.
Pressure is the key to stop lymphorrhea. This may be in the form of bandaging, compression garments or wraps. The choice will depend on how much leakage occurs. If it’s only a small amount a small non stick dressing can be applied and the stocking over the top. Otherwise bandaging or sometimes wraps may be more appropriate in combination with the dressing.
Usually the leaking stops within 48 hours of effective compression being applied.
At the time of this article the top 6 dressings that are deemed effective as well as cost effective are listed in the table below. The prices, where available, have been provided by Independence Australia www.independenceaustralia.com. The sizes listed are commonly used but each product has many more sizes that can be found via the link to their website. This also includes further information about the product.