Lymphorrhea: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Complications

What is Lymphorrhea?

The lymphatic system is one of the most vital body systems. This system is responsible for removal of any cellular waste, absorbs fats, ensures that adequate fluid is maintained in the body, and the most important function of defending the body against foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. It can be said with surety there is a direct relationship between the lymphatic system and the overall health of the person.[1, 2, 3]

An important part of the lymphatic system is the lymphatic fluid. Before becoming part of the lymphatic system, this fluid is a part of the arterial blood plasma. This fluid then enters the tissues and is termed as extracellular fluid. The fluid flows through the entirety of the tissues covering the small interstitial spaces where it leaves oxygen and other nutrients required by cells for healthy growth and removes any debris present.[1, 2, 3]

Majority of this fluid then joins the venous blood and the little amount that is left behind is termed as lymph fluid. The lymph fluid continues to clean up and absorb cellular waste. The waste product present in the lymph fluid is then cleaned by the lymph nodes. Sometimes, the lymph fluid is not able to move through the body as fluidly as it should. This results in pockets of lymph fluid to form.[1, 2, 3]

It usually occurs after the age of 35. The areas most affected are the upper and lower extremities where the accumulation of lymph fluid causes swelling. If the swelling gets severe then the individual may observe some amount of yellow colored fluid oozing out of the skin surface from the area of the swelling. This is what is medically termed as Lymphorrhea.[1, 2, 3]

What Causes Lymphorrhea?

The primary cause for Lymphorrhea is believed to be a surgical procedure in which the lymph nodes are removed. This is generally done in cases of cancer of the neck, chest, and breasts. As a result of the removal of the lymph nodes, the upper and lower extremities including the hands, arms, legs, and feet develop lymphedema or swelling. Sometimes, they can also develop in the neck and jaw.[3]

If not addressed on time, the swelling worsens and the fluid starts to come out of the skin surface causing Lymphorrhea. This usually happens when the swelling causes small bruises or cuts through which the fluid comes out.[3]

What Are The Complications Of Lymphorrhea?

As stated, the lymphedema or swelling causes the skin to cut or bruise through which the lymph fluid comes out. If these cuts and bruises are not addressed on time, then it may lead to cellulitis. Additionally, due to persistent oozing of fluid from the skin, it may also lead to skin breakdown. The area around the oozing becomes cold and is quite uncomfortable for the individual. Since there is constant oozing of fluid from the skin, the clothes may become soaked in it and may cause social embarrassment.[3]

How is Lymphorrhea Treated?

It is vital for Lymphorrhea to be diagnosed and treated on time. If there is any delay, then there is an increased likelihood of infections and cellulitis which can be potentially serious. It is quite common for people with Lymphorrhea to have skin infections as the fluid that comes out has excessive proteins which further irritate the skin causing it to break further providing the ideal environment for bacteria to creep in.[3]

The best way to treat Lymphorrhea is to clean the affected area and apply clean dry bandage. These bandages tend to get wet quickly and should be changed regularly. It is best to keep the area as dry as possible. The physician may also place a compression wrap over the affected area for a couple of days until the wound heals and there is resolution of Lymphorrhea.[3]


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