Prosthetic socks are worn over the residual limb as an interface to the prosthesis. These socks come in a variety of thicknesses and materials. They provide cushion, reduce friction, protect the skin, absorb sweat, and accommodate for shrinkage and/or swelling of the residual limb that may occur daily. To maintain fit of your prosthesis, use different thicknesses of socks to accommodate for any volume loss or gain that has occurred. The thickness of the sock is called the ply. As the ply increases, the thickness increases. Typical thicknesses are 1-, 2-, 3- and 5-ply.
You will receive several socks for use with your prosthesis. This will allow you to better manage your prosthetic fit. Every time you put on your prosthesis, it is important to be aware of how many ply you have on.
If the prosthesis feels loose, add a ply. If the prosthesis is too tight, remove a ply. You may need to repeat this throughout the day as your limb changes in volume. You should maintain the ply using the least number of socks possible. For example, you should wear one 5-ply sock instead of one 3-ply sock and two 1-ply socks. Understanding sock management is an important step to avoid skin breakdown and irritation.
Sheaths, or nylons, are also available for prosthetic wearers. They aid in wicking away sweat and they also help to reduce rubbing. They should be worn against your skin, unless otherwise directed by your prosthetist.
Care and Maintenance
You should wear clean, dry socks/sheaths every day. On hot, humid days or during periods of excessive sweating, change your socks and sheaths frequently.
Socks and sheaths should be washed following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Most recommend hand-washing or machine-washing on low setting with a mild soap. Machine-dry low or hang to dry.
Prosthetic socks and sheaths should periodically be replaced. This should be done whenever the socks/sheaths are torn or fraying. At this time, the prosthetist should be contacted to order replacement ones, and then the damaged socks/sheaths should be discarded.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your health care providers. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor or others on your health care team. If you are a Gillette patient with urgent questions or concerns, please contact Telehealth Nursing at 651-229-3890.