Lymphoedema in babies, children and adolescents
Lymphoedema can affect patients of all ages. Younger patients may need help to cut through the medical jargon and understand what’s happening, why it’s happening and what we can do to help keep it under control.
Lymphoedema happens when your body’s system for washing away any germs or bacteria that get under your skin if you cut or scratch yourself isn’t working properly. This system is called the lymphatic system and it can go wrong for lots of reasons, including an infection, a family history of lymphatic problems, an illness or an operation.
In a healthy lymphatic system, a liquid called lymph carries the germs and bacteria through the tiny tubes or ‘vessels’ that take your blood round your body. The vessels take the lymph from your arms and legs back towards the middle of your body and it gets cleaned several times on the way by lymph nodes that take all the bad stuff out. If your lymphatic system isn’t working properly, it means that the lymph gets stuck which causes swelling in your body and stops your body from being able to fight infection quite so well.
By getting to know you, we can find out the best way to help you and there are lots of ways that we can do that. We can even teach you and your family how to help at home!
If your skin gets dry or you scratch it germs and bacteria could get in and make you ill. That’s why it’s really important to put lots of moisturising cream on so that your skin doesn’t crack and you don’t feel like scratching it.
We use special socks and bandages to help squeeze the lymph fluid that’s got lost in your body back to where it needs to go. We’ll ask you to wear these as much as you can, especially when you’re on the go.
By pushing the lymph fluid under your skin with their hands, our nurses can help it on its way back to your lymphatic system to help the swelling go down. We can even teach you to do this for yourself.
Having Lymphoedema doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. In fact, we believe that fun is good for you, especially if it involves walking, cycling, swimming or playing with your friends.