Resident skin care and the prevention of pressure ulcers are two of the most common year-round challenges for senior care providers, but with the sun, heat and humidity, summer poses the greatest threat for skin problems.
Prevention and early intervention are the best way to head off potential wounds, rashes, infections, inflammation and other skin disorders, and this approach requires only a dose of common sense, along with TLC.
The American Academy of Dermatology has issued a list of guidelines designed to keep residents’ skin healthy, thus maintaining their quality of life.
One of the biggest culprits in dermal disorders is dry, irritated skin. Heat and humidity are prime causes of skin irritation, which can lead to shear and, ultimately, pressure ulcers and wounds. SPF 30+ sunscreen offers protection from the sun’s radioactive rays. Broad-spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Cleansers are effective in keeping skin moist, but antibacterial and deodorant soaps and body washes actually can dry the skin. Warm baths and showers are preferable to hot ones, followed by application of fragrance-free moisturizer.
“Because moisturizer works by trapping water in the skin, it needs to be applied within five minutes of taking a shower or bath,” the AAD recommends.
Sunburn and melasma are two conditions caused by direct sun exposure. Because many senior living communities are located in sunbelt locations and have ample outdoor areas, the risk for sunburn and melasma (gray-brown skin patches) is high — especially in residents.
The AAD recommends avoiding direct sun and that residents sit in shaded areas. A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants should be worn, when possible.
Apply enough sunscreen to cover all exposed skin. Most adults need about one ounce to fully cover the body.
Important areas to cover include tops of feet, neck, ears and top of the head. When outdoors, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours.
Prickly heat, or heat rash, can be a painful condition caused by blocked sweat glands. Because the sweat cannot get out, it builds up under the skin, causing a rash and tiny, itchy bumps.