Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sweating the Small Stuff

Perspiration and the problems it causes the amputee athlete has been something I have researched and sought advice for during my journey. It is more troublesome to the distance runner than the sprinter and there is no current prosthetic solution for it. I believe hope lies in elevated vacuum suspension systems; there should be some way to suck the sweat out of the liner.

Here are some things to keep in mind, things I have gleaned from others and from my own experience:

  • If you are a new amputee you will sweat more at first; it will take many months before you body adjusts and lowers sweat production under your liner. It does get a little better.
  • Antiperspirants help but do not stop perspiration (in my experience). For best performance use regularly; Drysol and Certain-Dri are two good products. They will be uncomfortable after application! On days they are applied, I recommend bathing in the evening and applying as soon as skin is dry. Once product is dry on skin put on shrinker to keep product from rubbing off overnight. It will take some time to get use to the needle-like sensation when the antiperspirant is applied. Be tough! The unpleasant prickly sensation goes away in about 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Use of a sheath may help delay sweat accumulation; I am currently trying the Silver Liner Sheath from Comfort Products, Inc.
  • Run when you can in cool or colder weather, the heat and humidity will guarantee more sweat and time delays when you have to stop and dump the fluid out of your liner. At times a treadmill will be your best friend. If you can invest in a good one! You don't get a time-out in a race unlike those baby sports!
  • Inspect your stump closely every day. If you pull off your liner to dump sweat out, take a close look at your residual for any irritation and address it immediately. Carry extra prosthetic socks and a small towel with you as well as some form of blister protection. I can stuff all these items into a small hydration backpack when I run.
  • Blister protection in the form of Band-Aid Advanced Blister Healing bandages and New-Skin will help protect/prevent blisters in suspect areas. I recommend putting these on at night on clean, dry skin to allow them to adhere to the skin better. The Band-Aid bandages tend to come off if you run too long with sweat accumulating in your liner. Some use a little mineral oil or Aquaphor on hot spots.
  • Press your prosthetist to encourage prosthetic companies to seriously deal with this issue; as more amputees return to high levels of activity, the more this problem will surface.
NEW! This is from Rick Ball, single BTK marathon champion:
  • One of the biggest problems that I have had in the past is infected hair follicles on the residual limb. It starts off as a little red spot like a pimple and if it is not taken care of right away can get much worse and a lot bigger as I wear my prosthesis and the heat and sweat gets to it. My solution is some antibiotic ointment or cream that I apply. It is a prescription medication (Fucidin) and seems to work for me very well. I don't know if you have the same problem or not but if you ever run into this hopefully this can help.
(My note: I also use tea tree oil and neosporin for these follicle problems; Rick trains much further and harder than I do and these infected follicles are probably as bad as blisters. Infection is never welcomed on the residual limb.)

This is my shorter run hydration pack showing socks and towel (pulled out for clarity)

If you have anything to add please comment on this post and I will append this list. This is a pet project of mine and every chance I get - and as diplomatically as I can be - I will impress this need to the companies who may be able to help.


  1. Have you tried Swiftwick's Valor Liner socks? They wick away the moisture and they are quite adhesive against the liner material and the skin. You don't need to irritate your skin with products, and the sweating can continue naturally which is in general better for your skin in the end.

  2. Since going into elevated vac I no longer have a sweat issue as the perspiration is pumped out, however any additional wicking is probably a good thing. I'll update the main post soon.