Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Itchy And Scratchy Show

One of the more embarrassing side effects of spending all of your time sitting down is the rash which can develop in the groin area. This wheelchair rash is a result of the lack of air circulation along with the constant warmth and moisture achieved as a result of the body parts constantly pressing against each other. It itches, the red edges of welts rising above the even surface of my skin. There are small blisters that form, making the itch all the worse, driving me to the maddening need to scratch that itch, making the situation even worse.

There is a further challenge with this skin damage. Not only is it a result of sitting all day, it is exacerbated by the lack of muscle activity and corresponding blood flow in my legs. This lack of blood flow in my upper legs causes my skin to be more sensitive. More perversely, the same blood that doesn't flow in my thighs will pool in my feet, causing the deep purple swelling that I get to see each day. This swelling in my feet is as damaging to the skin there as the lack of blood flow is in my thighs. So not only do I get skin itch on my ass, I get it in my feet too.

There are a couple of ways to deal with this. Keeping the skin area clean is essential. This means daily washing of that area of my body, something I accomplish each morning at home. On the road I generally use hand wipes or baby wipes to clean my skin, removing the moisture that collects on the skin during the day. I am careful not to use scented or "anti-bacterial" wipes as these contain chemicals that can actually harm my skin. It also means cleaning my feet daily, using similar wipes when I am not near a shower.

Ensuring air flow next to those areas of skin is another important element. During the day I do nothing but sit, and that sitting pushes my thighs upward, flattening them, eliminating the normal space between my legs that muscles would provide. This means there is no air circulation, the kind that most people get when they walk or move their legs. My thighs, immobile as they are, simply push against one another, creating friction points and collection points for moisture. To combat this, I work to ensure my thighs are separated when I sleep at night, positioning my legs in a way that allows for air circulation, sometimes using pillows to keep one leg off the other.

Clothing is another key ingredient in keeping my skin healthy, especially in those private areas of my body. Garments, particularly underwear, that fold into bunches and rub against the skin create irritation, causing more sweat and more discomfort. If my clothes are too loose, they bunch. If they are too tight, they bind on the skin, increasing the itch and discomfort, damaging more than just the surface of my body.

Finally, there is my wheelchair cushion. A good wheelchair cushion costs in the area of $600; it's worth every penny. These specialized cushions are designed to allow for comfort and distribution of weight. They separate the legs, supporting each independently. It's getting so I want to spend more and more time on that cushion. It's not just comfortable, it's healthy too.

1 comment:

  1. you need underwear and shirts with "wicking" Richard to pull the moisture away from the body. Also corn starch will stop the itch somewhat. The 'wicking clothing is expensive but it what the olympic athletes use and Ive been told worth every $.