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Keep Your Scoliosis Brace And Skin Well-Maintained And Healthy!

Maintaining your brace properly can help keep you comfortable and on schedule with your scoliosis treatment.

Because your brace has to fit very tightly against your skin whenever you're wearing it, it's very important that you keep your brace—and your skin—well-maintained. Otherwise, unnecessary repairs and skin problems could interrupt your treatment schedule, which in turn could affect how well your brace does its job!

To keep the parts of your brace in good working order:

  • Each day or so, clean your brace each day by hand with mild soap and water, and allow it to air dry completely.
  • Once a week, wipe your brace down with rubbing alcohol.
  • Examine the components of your brace regularly. Contact your doctor and/or orthotist at the first signs of any "wear and tear" that you think may affect the function of the brace.
  • Always wear a clean 100% cotton T-shirt/undershirt under your brace.

It's also very important to take special care of your skin. Otherwise, your skin could get irritated and sore, a condition you may hear your doctor refer to as "skin breakdown." To help avoid this, the first thing you'll need to do is "toughen up" the parts of your skin that will be under the brace, particularly those areas where the brace places the most pressure.

Here are some tips to help make this process easier for you:

  • Bathe or shower each day.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol with your hands to the skin that's under your brace. Alcohol combined with the friction of your hands will help toughen up your skin. (This usually takes about 2 to 3 weeks once you start wearing the brace.)
  • Pay special attention to any pink areas that develop where your brace presses the most. The pink color should disappear within 30 minutes of removing the brace. If the pink remains more than 30 minutes, you may need to have your brace adjusted.
  • Always wear a 100% cotton undershirt without seams under your brace to help prevent the irritation and bruising that seams may cause. (Many orthotists offer custom-made shirts that extend the full length of the brace, with only one vertical seam located in the center of the back where the brace is open.)
  • Wear your brace as tightly as possible; if it's loose, it's more likely to rub your skin and cause skin problems.
  • A dusting of cornstarch may be helpful in hot weather or on skin sensitive to alcohol. At first, avoid using creams, lotions or other powders under the brace because they tend to soften the skin, which can lead to skin breakdown rather than toughening. Use any powders sparingly, as excess can dampen and form "pills" that may be uncomfortable.
  • If you do develop skin problems, you won't be able to wear your brace until your skin heals, which usually takes several days. If this happens, call your doctor's office and/or orthotist as soon as possible.
  • Don't be alarmed if you notice certain areas of your skin getting darker. This is common, and typically fades when your bracing treatment is over.
  • Air-conditioning may help keep you more comfortable; heat and humidity make it very difficult to keep skin cool and dry.
  • If your skin becomes irritated, apply moistened tea bags to the irritated skin. The tannic acid in the tea promotes healing. This can be done 3-4 times a day, for 10 minutes at a time.

Please Call Your Doctor If...

If you experience any of the following, you or your parents need to call your doctor or other healthcare professional immediately:

  • Any parts of your brace become loose, cracked or broken;
  • Parts of your brace rub, press or pinch your skin excessively, causing skin breakdown;
  • You develop excessive swelling above or below your brace;
  • If moderate discomfort develops into severe or constant pain; or
  • You develop sores under your brace.

Your doctor will also have some specific recommendations for maintaining your particular brace and protecting your skin. Be sure to follow his or her instructions precisely to maximize the effectiveness of your brace—and to keep you as comfortable and healthy as possible while you're wearing it!

Learn what to wear over your brace.

The materials on this Web site are for your general educational information only. Information you read on this Web site cannot replace the relationship that you have with your health care professional. We do not practice medicine or provide medical services or advice as a part of this Web site. You should always talk to your health care professional for diagnosis and treatment.

  • Published: July 11, 2007
  • Updated: July 22, 2008