Scratched arm...

Hi everyone, it’s me again I can’t seem to stay away from these forums :slight_smile:

I was a bit dumb and did a bit of gardening and managed to scratch my at risk arm, it’s about an inch long. I have cleaned it but I am a bit worried, how soon would I know if I have triggered lymphoedema or is it a gradual build up? I’m talking to the nurse next week anyway as my bicep is a cm bigger than my normal arm - is this normal?

thanks everyone


Is your bicep on your dominant arm? If so, you should expect it to be bigger. I had my arms measured before my ANC and there was quite a difference.

I recently scratched my affected arm and it became obviously infected very quickly I immediately obtained antibiotics as advised fro breast cancer nurse and have not experienced any adverse affects as dealt with infection very quickly. I hope this helps.

I scratched myself and was paranoid about getting an infection, and liberally used Brulidine cream and plasters impregnated with silver nanoparticles, both of which have antibacterial properties. I hoped that if I prevented an infection, I would prevent Lymphoedema. Two weeks on, I am still OK. good luck.

Thanks everyone, so far I think it looks ok, just a tiny bit red and slightly firm where the scratch is but think that’s normal, I’ve been putting savlon on it and will keep a close eye. As for the bicep it’s not my dominant arm which is why I’m wondering if it’s the start of lymphoedema, the arm does ache a little sometimes and I get a funny pins and needles feeling in my fingers but the nurse last time i mentioned that just put it down to nerve damage so I may as usual be worrying about nothing :slight_smile:

Hi Moonbeam

BCC have published a booklet about reducing the risk of lymphoedema, here’s the link in case you havent come cross it, hope you find it useful:

Best wishes


I unfortunately got Cellulitis (not sure how to spell it) while I was having Chemo, in my left affected arm. I was advised to always keep Antibiotics in the house in case I get ant signs of infection again. If I do cut myself, I wash the cut in warm salted water, put Savlon cream on and cover with a plaster. So far so good. Hope that’s helpful x

Hi, just to say my doctor gives me fuciden cream its an antibiotic cream for when I cut, scratch etc my arm hand etc. had lymphodema 12 years now, one word, keep your arm hand or upper body well moisturized. good luck x

Thanks everyone, my scratch has healed quite nicely just kept putting savlon on, seemed to do the trick. Arm still has a tendency to ache but not as much as it used to and I’m trying not to worry too much about lymphoedema now, it will either happen or not - my worrying about it constantly wont alter anything, although I am still careful I just refuse to let this possibility rule my life, I’ll worry when I have too! Meanwhile I’ve started using free weights again (very light) and cycling, and have recently lost the plot and brought some rollerblades (complete with full protective gear which even the local kids don’t wear, I just have a good laugh at myself, I must look so daft to them :slight_smile: )… This last I know is risky however I shall do my best to land on my good arm if I do find myself on the floor :slight_smile:

I hope everyone’s as well as possible

Moonbeam x

Hi Moonbeam and ladies,
I am constantly aware of my right hand, scratched it today whilst gardening, so will keep an eye on it.(Wouldnt mind but it was at the one minute i literally took my gloves off) I washed it straight away and put savlon on. But like you I have felt a pins and needles sensation in my arm recently, so am a little worried and keep getting my husband to measure my arm. My op was six weeks ago, so is this normal?
Glad to hear moonbeam that you are trying new activities. I can’t wait till my radiotherapy is done ( starts on the 1st July) so I can go swimming again.
Take care all

Hi Moonbeam

As your non-dominant arm is slightly bigger and you’ve had some aching, I think it might be a good idea to get your arm measured by a lymphodema nurse specialist - you’ve nothing to lose. Hopefully it’s nothing but with lymphodema, the sooner its treated the better. This is particularly important with all the exercise you are doing.

Re scratches etc. I have lymphodema and I garden all the time - I love it! I also have a cat who can get a bit too boisterous and scratch. I always have some antiseptic wipes around and give any scratches a good clean with a wipe. Then I put on a little antiseptic cream and cover with a plaster until the scratch has a scab. Keeping it covered is important because it’s opening where an infection can get it and that is what you want to avoid. The scratch itself isn’t the problem, it’s the potential for infection.

As my lymphodema nurse always says, it’s important not to let lymphodema (or risk) run your life. Be careful and take the necessary precautions and actions but then put it out of your head.
Elinda xx

Hi Elinda,
Thanks for the advice. My hubby keeps telling me to stop worrying about every little scratch. I am sure it comes with time. Just want to feel normal again.


Thanks Elinda, that’s sounds like sensible advice, I may mention lympoedema to my docs again but I feel everytime I do everyone (inc BCN) has a look at my arm and I mean just a look and says well it doesn’t look swollen… It’s as if they think it doesn’t have a starting point and has to be visibly swollen to be taken seriously - so I told my work friends to let me know when my arm looks swollen as if they can see it then even the docs will be able to… Although I don’t really plan on letting it get that bad, I just get fed up of banging my head against the brick wall.

It’s my left arm that’s affected (I’m right handed) my left forearm is smaller than the right, but my left bicep is bigger than the right so I’m not convinced that’s right, however I try to measure my arm now and then and the measurements stay roughly the same so while odd not sure it’s any thing to worry about.

Anyway thanks for the advice on keeping scratches clean

Moonbeam xx

Sunshine75 - I promise that you will get less anxious over time - never complacent (hopefully) but not worrying about every little thing with your arm.

Moonbeam - you need to see a lymphoedema specialist. Mine was caught early and got my arm right down so that it was smaller than my dominant one (having a bit of a flare up now but first time in 3 years). I was told there was nothing wrong by my surgeon but I knew it wasn’t quite right - swelling wasn’t even visible at all. Persist and ask to see a specialist. Sadly, most nurses and clinicians have incredibly scant knowledge of lymphoedema and a shockingly poor understanding of the need for early intervention. You really wouldn’t want to wait until swelling is so visible that your colleagues can see it. It may not be lymphoedema of course in which case all well and good and I hope that’s the case.

Please remember it’s your life and your arm and the BCN or other clinicians aren’t the ones that has to live with any problem so very easy for them to be dismissive.

I hope that it isn’t lymphoedema but, if it is, you’ll find a lot of support on here and you’ll be able to work to get that arm right down again.

Elinda xx

Hi Moonbeam,
I was only diagnosed a month or so ago, I had three small patches one on my hand, just below elbow joint and outer lower arm. Spoke to my BCN, told her I was going on holiday and was a bit concerned. She said she would organise an urgent referral, was seen really quickly and it was confirmed. Now the biggest shock to me was that my whole arm was affected, I had no idea! No one else thought it was bigger either! So I would def get it checked, you are worried, if it’s not lymphoedema, then you will be worry free. Give your BCN a phone today! I sliced my finger over a year ago, no infection but it bled profusely, went to my own GP who listened skeptically to my worry of L, in fact made me feel a bit silly as I was worrying over nothing?? When I told Macmillan physio she said that may well have been the starting point, so please don’t be put off by others and get the ball rolling to be seen, really hope all goes well for you, fingers crossed xx

I have had lymphoedema for 10 years now and have learned to live with it. Always wear gloves for washing up/cleaning/gardening and if I get a scratch/etc. clean it immediately I always have antibiotics n the hosue and also take them on holiday with me, so if I get an infection I can quickly treat it. As the others have said, it is not the injury itself , but the risk of infection and if you’ve had ANC, you’ve got no lymph nodes left to fights any infection. I wear a sleeve when I travel, when gardening or doing heavy work, but don’t need it all the time as it is mostly on my upper arm and chest and the sleeve pushes the sweleling further up! I have a brilliant lymphoedema nurse who comes to the house once a month and gives me a massage and my husband has learned to do it as well, so he can help out if my arm gets a bit swollen. Sofar, I’ve not had any infections, the arm has not got any bigger and as long as I am careful, I can do anything and I swim regularly - but not the gym I have been told.

I requested an appt at our local lymphedema clinic as my chest and axilla/upper arm felt uncomfortable and seemed to be exacerbated by gentle exercise, eg mopping the kitchen floor or hoovering.

I was glad I did, as although I didn’t have “measurable” signs of swelling, the therapist said that if the patient is remarking of any discomfort, heaviness or even just feeling “wrong” then they take it seriously. It may be classed as “sub-clinical”, but it is good to get advice. She showed me how to do self-massage to improve lymph drainage. (I’m not very conscientious about that), and made me a temporary compression sleeve, also a pressure pad to wear in my bra.

The other benefit I’m pleased about is that now I am “on their books”, they will keep an eye on me and I will have direct access to be seen more quickly without a doctor referral. I also have a phone number and email options for advice. I have had some swelling in my hand since mosquito bites on my wrist a couple of weeks ago, so I’m pleased that I have a follow up appt next week. :slight_smile:

They also offer advice re return to work etc … as and when I get to that point! :o

That’s great Morwenna! What a wonderful clinic you have and that must be a relief to know you’ve got somewhere to turn to with concerns. Also fantastic news that there are no measurable signs of swelling. Hopefully all you’re feeling is the body adjusting to surgery.
Elinda xx

The centre where my LE clinic is based was flooded on the 21st June by the flood disaster in Calgary, ans so my appointment was cancelled. They have found a place to move to, and I’m seeing them next week.

Since my insect bite issues, my hand/arm has shown definite but reversible signs of swelling on a couple of occasions while using the arm in a dependent position: once was planting seeds (no heavy digging involved), and the second time was washing photos to try and salvage them from somebody’s flooded basement (again nothing strenuous, but I did it for a coupla hours)

Then on Monday I was in a parade, singing, and my arm felt sore and swollen from above my elbow. Since then I have felt pain like cording on the medial, flexor aspect of my arm, especially on full extension of the elbow, combined with shoulder abduction to 90 degrees.

The night before last I noticed a red line down my arm over the sore area, so yesterday I saw a doctor at the hospital and have started on antibiotics. The thing is, on Weds I got a couple of mosquito bites on the back of my arm, so the health people think its cellulitis from those, even though the redness is on the other side of the arm, and they don’t seem to listen when I tell them I don’t think the two things are related (although I’m sure it doesn’t help!), as it is the other side of the arm, and the pain started two days before I was bit!

I’m feeling it is some issue with the vein. Phlebitis? Does anybody have any similar experiences?

I’m now seriously worried for the longer term implications, especially as I’m due to start 16 days of rads on July 22!!!

I developed lymphoedema before Rads, and I don’t think rads made it any worse (although I know it can trigger it in some). I do know that cording can recur after time, so it is possible that it IS cording. But cording is also linked to lymphoedema. Give the antibiotics a chance to work. Drink LOTS and LOTS of water–it helps to keep the lymph moving and keep your arm elevated as much as possible. If you are not satisfied when the antibiotics are gone–find someone to pester.Elinda is right, the amount of knowledge among most medical people about lymphoedema is abysmal. Good luck, and lets hope it’s something completely different.