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Under arm hair

17 REPLIES 17
jane304
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Thanks Appletree, that's very useful and will discuss with my GP on Monday, or with my BCN or surgeon just before the op next week or before I am discharged. As only 3 nodes were removed I'm not too concerned anymore but think the idea of a small tube of Savlon in my handbag is a good idea, not just for left arm but anywhere!

 

Cheers!

Appletree
Member

Re: Under arm hair

When I discussed all this with my Breast Care Nurse she took a much more laid back approach. She advised caution, but returning to normal usage of the affected arm as soon as possible. She said that, inevitably, I will scratch or cut the arm at some time, and that under use is worse than normal use and is more likely to prompt lymphoedema. She advised carrying a small tube of Savlon about and applying it should I cut or graze the arm at any time, and being prompt to see my GP if I have any signs of a problem. She also advised being careful when playing with my cats and using my right arm for preferance. They are both very gentle affectionate aimals but can easily claw out or nip in a moment of wildness; cats' teeth are very high in bacteria. She also suggested continuing to be generous with the Aveeno cream (or whatever you prefer) on the vulnerable arm and hand, to keep the skin in moist and supple condition. My GP said much the same.

 

I had a total node clearance from my left arm pit - 26 lymph nodes removed. If you've had only a few removed, that suggests you still have some protection from your lymphatic system on that side so are not so vulnerable.

 

Do you have a Breast Care Nurse or Macmillan Nurse from whom you can get advice? You could check with your GP and find out what you need to do if you have any emergency, e.g. phoning the surgery and speaking to one of the doctors/nurses for on the spot advice.

jane304
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Crumbs, this is beginning to sound really restrictive. I get the point about prevention and can't imagine anyone would want lymphodoema, but aren't some of these advices just a bit too much?

Quaggie
Member

Re: Under arm hair

I knew I'd read about the washing up somewhere so it must have been the Macmillan booklet.  I think my BCN also told me when she briefly ran through lymphodema but she'd called me when I'd just got out of the shower so I wasn't paying full attention.  She also mentioned not letting anyone cut your cuticles if you have a manicure.

 

Optimisticmz
Member

Re: Under arm hair

I have lymphedema in my hand, arm and breast after surgery and full node clearance.
The Macmillan booklet says "avoid cuts or scratches by wearing gloves for household tasks, such as washing up, DIY or gardening. Be careful when handling any pets that might scratch. Wearing long sleeves, as well as gloves, will give extra protection when doing some of these activities".
They give other advice such as:
Use your unaffected hand to remove food from freezer
Use oven gloves or pot holders
Use nail clippers instead of scissors
Remove underarm hair with an electric shaver
Don't wear tight jewellery or clothes
Avoid deep tissue massage (to the area)
Don't carry anything heavy
Avoid activities that use the arm for long periods such as driving, ironing or vacuuming
Appletree
Member

Re: Under arm hair

The BCC booklet, 'Reducing the risk of lymphoedema,' gives advice on p 13 on how to protect your skin.

 

On p 7, they say, 'There's a lifetime risk of developing lymphoeda following breast cancer treatment where the lymph nodes have been removed or damaged.'

 

On p 13: 'Where possible, protect against damage to the skin. Use sunscreen to avoid sunburn, use oven gloves when cooking, apply insect repellent, wear protective gloves in the garden (particuarly when near rose bushes or brambles) and take care cutting  your nails.'

 

They don't specifically mention washing up gloves, but the general message is to protect your affected hand and arm as far as is practicable, in any situation where you might cut or scratch it.

 

They also say: 'You are more likely to increase your risk by over protecting your arm and not using it enouth. Try to use your arm normally but don't over-use is to the point where it aches and feels heavy.'

Quaggie
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Jane - I can't remember where I read about the washing up gloves (I thought it was the BCC booklet on lymphodema but can't find it now), but I think it's just an extension of protecting your skin, so not letting the skin get soaked which might crack, dry out, and maybe also risk of cutting yourself while your hands are in dirty water. 

 

On a separate note, any advice on how to keep underarms fresh in this horrible heat when you can't use deodarant so soon after my surgery?

 

K x 

jane304
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Quaggie, same here, I only had 3 lymph nodes removed but I've not heard about using gloves for washing up. I use them anyway as I have gel on my nails so protects them and my skin, but how do gloves for washing up relate to lymphodena?

 

Quaggie
Member

Re: Under arm hair

I'm only a few days post-op so aren't even thinking about shaving yet, but the Breast Cancer Care leaflet on lymphodema is really helpful and does suggest using an electric razor for the underarm area to reduce the risk of cutting if you use a normal razor.  

I only had a couple of lymph nodes removed so I know I'm lucky and less at risk but I'm still sad that I have to make even small changes to my normality (ie wearing gloves when washing up) for the rest of my life.  I'm just hoping that if I make these part of my routine now then it will become the new normality and I'll not notice them while also keeping myself safe.

 

Sending you strength ladies.  

 

 

Appletree
Member

Re: Under arm hair

As regards an ID tag giving instruction to use a specific arm for blood pressure and injections etc, your GP will be able to advise. I believe Boots have a system using bracelets and medallions which you can have engraved and which you can wear. You might also consult your Breast Care Nurse.

 

My understanding is that, if we have had axillary node clearance, in other words all the lymph nodes have been taken out from one arm pit, we have lost the part of the lymphatic system serving that arm and hand, so that hand and arm are especially vulnerable to infection and the risk of developing lymphoedema. That is why we are advised never ever to use that arm or hand for taking blood, receiving injections or for taking blood pressure. The lymphatic system cannot repair itself, so the arm and hand in question are always vulnerable to infection should we even slightly scratch them whilst, say, gardening, doing DIY, playing with the cat, etc..

 

You might try googling for the Breast Cancer Care booklet: 'Reducing the risk of Lymphoedema'. It explains the lymphatic system and what it does, and advises on taking care of the 'at risk' arm.

jane304
Member

Re: Under arm hair

I'm having a similar issue, doesn't matter whether I use a disposable razor or an electric one, I just cannot seem to get rid of all the hairs - to be fair not many and they are blonde. Still a fair bit of numbness after SNB 7 weeks ago but still some sensitivity too. Felt with the electric shaver as if I was going to cut the skin. Have toyed with the idea of using a nail file (not a metal one) in my wilder moments!

 

Also thinking of a med-ID tag to wear as a bracelet with and engraving of "nil by left arm" as was told to never have blood pressure taken or any injections done on left arm to ensure no risk of lymphodema but need to double check that one if that resriction is for ever or just for some time. 

Appletree
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Have you tried an electric razor? Boots have a number, battery driven, at different prices.

 

My armpit, the area immediately beneath it and my upper arm in that vicinity are all rather numb and have been so since surgery (24 April). Just one of those things, I think! I am still very conscious of the axillary node scar, which feels very tight. It serves to remind me I have no lymphatic system on that side and need to protect my left arm and hand, for ever and ever. Sad.

Palm Tree
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Hi  I tried to shave a bit - but 4 weeks post lumpectomy I am still numb and swollen so hard to shave.

 

The arm is painful - ;linked more to the lymph nodes removal (clearance) and this is still sollen and nerve pain is there- but been told it will be - so normal!

Weezy
Member

Re: Under arm hair

One month post surgery- still not shaving. My armpit feels a little numb, and I'm so afraid of cutting myself with the razor! 

jclarke4
Member

Re: Under arm hair

That's exactly how I felt and I ended up going to see my nurse just to check my wounds etc. she said that what I was experiencing was normal and that I need to keep doing the exercises and using my arms when I can gently. She also did a slight massage on the under arm which hurt a lot but did release the muscle tension. Good luck xxx
ladybowler
Community Champion

Re: Under arm hair

Ladies

 

I would have said that it is probably all the nerves knitting back together again, however if you are concerned just give your bcn a call for peace of mind.  I can remember after mine that I had quite a lot of discomfort once all the aneasthetic and stuff wore off and everything was starting to heal.

 

Helena xxx

mcnulcc
Member

Re: Under arm hair

Hi I had my lumpectomy two weeks today and for the first week or so had little in the way of pain in or under my arm however in the last few days it has got increasingly painful to the point that I was in tears last night. I feel that it is constantly stinging and am getting shooting pains down my arm and into my palm and fingers. I would be interested if this is the same pain you are experiencing. X
jclarke4
Member

Under arm hair

Am not shaving either at the moment and 3 weeks post lumpectomy. I feel that I don't need any complications so a bit of fuzz in the grand scheme of all this doesn't really matter! It's the nerve pain that's crippling me... any thoughts ladies?
Xxx