3 Home Care Nursing Interventions To Help Prevent Skin Breakdown

Elderly people, especially those with limited mobility, urinary or fecal incontinence, diabetes, or vascular disease, are at heightened risks for developing skin breakdown. Ranging from simple redness to severe decubitus ulcers, skin breakdown can lead to pain, scarring, and severe infection. If you are taking care of an elderly loved one, here are three home care nursing interventions that you can employ to help prevent skin breakdown.

Change Position Frequently

Skin breakdown can quickly develop in the elderly, especially over the bony prominences of the hips, sacrum, elbows, heels, and ankles, If your loved one has limited mobility, help him or her change position every couple of hours. After the position has been changed, gently massage pressure points on the body so that circulation is stimulated, which will help decrease the risk for skin breakdown. While massaging the skin, look for any signs of redness or excoriation on the body, and if found, called the physician for treatment suggestions.

Monitor For Dehydration

Dehydration can also raise the risk for skin breakdown and tears in the fragile skin of the elderly. To help prevent dehydration in your senior loved one, encourage him or her to drink non-caffeinated beverages throughout the day and monitor for signs and symptoms of dehydration.

These include decreased urinary output, dry, sticky mucus membranes, warm skin temperature, and poor skin turgor. This refers to when the skin makes a little "tent" and doesn't snap back after gently pinching the back of the hand. Dehydration can develop quickly in older individuals, and may be related to certain medications such as diuretics, or "water pills." 

Keep Clean And Dry

Another home care nursing intervention that can help prevent skin breakdown and pressure ulcers is keeping your loved one clean and dry after an incontinent episode. Urine and stool is very irritating to the skin, and if not cleaned quickly, skin redness and excoriation can develop.

For addition skin protection, you can use a barrier product such as petroleum jelly or a zinc oxide ointment to help prevent moisture from making contact with the skin. Unless the skin has been cleaned well with warm, soapy water, a barrier product will do little to protect the skin from breaking down.

If your elderly loved one develops a pressure ulcer or other type of skin breakdown despite the above home care nursing measures, call the physician. When skin irritation is recognized and treated early on, damage to the epidermis is less likely to progress and cause more extensive skin destruction. For more information and advice, contact a home care nursing service like Ameristaff Nursing Services.