Healthy skin aids in regulating body temperature, protecting internal organs from injury and environmental elements, and protecting against infection.
Signs and symptoms of possible skin problems include, but are not limited to:
- Unusual or abnormal color (pale, pink, red, or bluish);
- Rashes, cuts, open sores, raised bumps, blisters, bruises;
- Changes in skin temperature (such as moist, hot, or cool to the touch); and
Your role if signs or symptoms are noted:
Whenever skin issues are noted, medical staff should be notified immediately and the reporting and documentation procedures for your program followed. Be sure to report any signs of skin breakdown or pressure sores or ulcers immediately to your supervisor.
- Pressure sores are areas of skin damage resulting from a lack of blood flow due to pressure, friction, or pulling on the skin (skin that gets worse over time, blisters, pain, itching, and crater-like appearance).
Preventing skin breakdown:
- Use adaptive items such as water or air mattresses, foam mattress pads, chair cushions, gel cushions, heel and elbow protectors;
- Close daily inspection of skin to detect early redness or discoloration;
- Prevent friction during lifting and re-positioning;
- Provide good skin care (skin clean and dry); free from moisture, urine, stool, and wound drainage – minimize skin exposure to moisture – avoid harsh scrubbing/rubbing of skin;
- Ensure frequent repositioning – if using a wheelchair assist in shifting weight every 15 minutes;
- Encourage activity;
- Protect bony areas with soft material; and
- Apply moisturizer to dry skin areas.
People at risk for skin breakdown include, but are not limited to, those who:
- Use a wheelchair or who are in bed a lot of the time;
- Require assistance when moving;
- Have loss of bowel or bladder control;
- Have poor nutrition and hydration;
- Have problem sensing pain or pressure;
- Have limited ability to communicate;
- Have circulatory problems; and/or
- Are older adults, or are obese or very thin