How to Protect Your Hand and Arm after Breast Surgery

  1. Avoid breaking your skin and providing access to germs.
  2. Treat infections vigorously.
  3. Protect the arm and hand by wearing gloves when engaged in an activity, including housework and gardening that can result in minor injuries.
  4. Use a thimble while sewing.
  5. Keep cuticles soft with hand lotions, and push back; do not cut cuticles.
  6. Avoid razors that can nick the skin (electric are much better than safety razors).
  7. Keep the skin meticulously clean with soap and dry well.
  8. Use low ph, lanolin based lotions.
  9. Do not allow the hand to become chapped, dry, or cracked.
  10. Wear a rubber glove if your hand will be in water for a prolonged period of time.
  11. Be careful to avoid burns when cooking or smoking.
  12. Wear sunscreen or protective clothing to prevent sunburn on the affected arm.
  13. Apply insect repellent if you are outside, and avoid pet scratches.
  14. Avoid carrying heavy objects, including over-the-shoulder purses and grocery bags.
  15. Avoid moving heavy objects and furniture or doing other activities that require excessive force or strain on the arm.
  16. Avoid wearing tight watchbands, elastic sleeves, etc., and tight bra straps on the shoulder.
  17. Avoid vigorous, repetitive movements, including some sports.  After about three miles of walking, the arm may start to swell because of the swinging and hanging down of the arm.
  18. Avoid extreme temperatures in bathing, including saunas, hot tubs, and Turkish baths, or weather.
  19. DO NOT permit IVs, INJECTIONS, BLOOD SAMPLES, VACCINATIONS, or BLOOD PRESSURES to be taken on the affected arm.
  20. Use a high-water, low-salt diet (8 or more glasses of water or juice a day).
  21. Do not use underarm deodorant under the affected arm if you have had lymph nodes removed until several months afterward.
  22. Wear a compression sleeve or bandage wrap when traveling by plane if you have lymphedema.

(Suggestions from doctors, patients, and literature)