Living With Neutropenia

This information was developed with the help of many nurses and physicians. It was first published by the Neutropenia Support Association Inc. in 1993. Sections of the booklet Neutropenia; Causes, Consequences and Care have been republished by other organizations. Do share these "helpful hints" with others and send us your own suggestions.

"Optimizing your chemotherapy treatment - understanding and managing neutropenia with NEUPOGEN©(filgrastim), Amgen Inc."

What precautions can you take to minimize the risk from neutropenia?

Personal hygiene:

  • Wash hands often with an antibacterial soap, especially before eating, after using the washroom, and shaking hands.
  • Bathe daily, and lightly pat the skin dry.
  • Use moisturizer to prevent dry skin.
  • Clean rectal area thoroughly after bowel movements. Women:Clean perianal area front to back.
  • Be careful with grooming, e.g., cutting nails. Do not tear or cut cuticles; use cuticle cream and remover.
  • Use a clean electric razor instead of a disposable or safety razor.
  • Do not squeeze or scratch blemishes.
  • Women: Use sanitary napkins, not tampons, to reduce infection risk. Avoid vaginal douche, bubble baths, bath salts.

Safety:

  • Avoid people with colds, flu, open sores, or any type of infection.
  • Avoid crowded, enclosed public areas.
  • Avoid sunburn.
  • Wear shoes to prevent cuts.
  • Protect hands from cuts or burns.
  • Avoid rectal thermometers or suppositories.
  • Discuss vaccination with your physician. People receiving chemotherapy should avoid contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine.

Household:

  • Have everyone remove their shoes when entering your home.
  • Avoid contact with animal stool or urine; stagnant water (e.g. vases, humidifiers, denture cups).
  • Have furnace and ducts cleaned once or twice a year, as required; have filters replaced monthly.
  • Dry-clean outerwear frequently.

Nutrition:

  • A proper diet is important. Ensure that food is cooked adequately.
  • Avoid constipation; follow a diet with plenty of fibre.

Oral and Dental hygiene:

  • Always use a soft tooth brush to prevent cuts in your mouth.
  • Do not use dental floss.
  • Rinse mouth often and well. Avoid commercial mouthwashes (very drying), and products which contain alcohol.
  • Clean dentures with fresh water.
  • Discuss any required or scheduled dental work first with your physician before proceeding.
  • Antibiotic treatment is also recommended before an after any dental work or cleaning.

Lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly, and get plenty of rest. Limit activities that tire you easily.
  • Learn how to deal with your stress. Discuss your fears and feelings with family, support groups, and health care professionals.
  • Learn as much as you want to know about your disease. Remember that knowledge is the best enemy of against fear.

Also see the section "Long Term Management of Severe Chronic Neutropenia" in the article Treatment for Severe Chronic Neutropenia.