Question 11: Dear Jane - Itching in Lymphoedema

Jane Wigg RGN, MSc is a Lymphoedema Clinical Expert and Regularly Answers L-W-O Community Member Questions





Living with lymphoedema, why do we 'itch' so much? Especially around the ankles and our private parts



Itching when you have lymphoedema can be relatively normal or can be a sign of a problem.

There are many reasons for your skin to start itching most of them give a hint that something is wrong with the skin.  

It could be that your skin is dry and therefore it’s very important that you hydrate the tissue. As the skin dries, minute cracks can appear, allowing for bacterial to enter causing infection and itching.

To prevent this, a daily application of a general moisturiser or if your skin is particularly dry a prescribable one, will help.

Besides applying moisture externally to the skin it’s also important to maintain your personal hydration through drinking enough water.

Some people may also develop itching due to contact dermatitis which can be an inflammation caused due to the garment you’re wearing or from the heat or something similar.

Sometimes your garments cause folliculitis by pulling the hair through the garment and aggravating its roots.

Another cause of itching is that when the oedema reduces through wearing compression garments or bandages, the nerve endings can become more sensitive and can feel like itching as they start to feel the things that were previously padded.

Itching can be particularly annoying around the ankles and in your ‘bits and pieces’- here remember perspiration can build up in the skin folds- so make sure you maintain good hygiene and maybe a handkerchief or gauze is useful to help absorb the sweat in the area.


In addition, for some people it can be a sign of a vein problem- which you should get checked out with your therapist.

So there are many causes of itching but generally you need to keep your skin healthy and yourself well hydrated.


until next time


Jane Wigg




Question 1: Why doesn’t the lymphatic system get the recognition it deserves and why does the health care profession know so little about the Lymphoedema especially in the UK?

Question 2: How does a healthy lymphatic system work?

Question 3: How do the lymph channels form?

Question 4: How do lymph nodes work?

Question 5: Inflammation - Is their a link to Lymphoedema?

Question 6: Food and inflammation

Question 7: Why does the health care profession know so little about Lymphoedema and when it comes to lymphoedema, why are HCP’s so reluctant to accept that those who have lived with lymphoedema a long time may have more knowledge than they do?

Question 8/9: Is manual lymphatic drainage useful for my ongoing treatment? Many clinics are taking MLD away as part of treatment?

Question 10: After you have been provided with compression garments, should you be reassessed to ensure they are still right for you and if so how often should you be reviewed. Thank you’


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