There are three steps that help keep skin from becoming damaged:
- Cleanse properly
- Protect skin from becoming too moist
- Keep skin from becoming too dry
In a patient who is incontinent, excess moisture comes from several sources, including urine, liquid stool, and sweat (when using a pad or brief). The risk of skin damage depends on how much and how often incontinence occurs and whether the use of a pad or brief keeps waste material next to the surrounding skin. Moisture that remains on the skin will sink in and soften the skin. The skin then loses its natural ability to act as a barrier, and can no longer protect itself against irritation from urine or feces.
Topical agents, or barrier creams or ointments, may be used to protect the skin from the damaging effects of too much moisture. It is important to remember that the skin must always be protected. If irritating moisture is allowed to come in contact with the skin, it can result in dermatitis. The symptoms of dermatitis include perineal redness, swelling, or blistering. The exact cause of perineal dermatitis is unclear. However, skin that is too moist allows irritating substances and bacteria to enter the skin. Also, skin that is too moist can easily become damaged.
Also, areas subject to friction are more likely to experience skin breakdown. Potential damage can be minimized when a plan of care is put into place to identify and protect these areas. Some at-risk areas include: heels, buttocks, base of the spine, elbows, and the two rough knobs on the upper part of the thigh bone. Special dressings, called hydrocolloid dressings (a substance that forms a gel when mixed with water), may be put into place on the skin to help lessen the effects of friction.
ACG Medical Supply cares about your skin health. Stop by our showroom to see a variety of skin care products, such as ConvaTec Sensi-Care Protective Barrier, to meet your skin care needs. Call us at 1-844-463-0737 to talk to a staff member for help in finding the right product for you. We’re here to help you!