Compared to giant hairy spiders, dry skin might seem like no big deal. But as all you wound care experts out there know, dehydration and the loss of moisture via the skin (known as transepidermal water loss), can be a huge problem in healing skin issues.
Moisturization is the act of increasing the water content of the epidermis to make it softer and more pliant. There are many different methods and agents that can act to moisturize the skin. Moisturizers can be divided into two categories: trapping agents that keep water in, and drawing agents that bring moisture in.
Skin naturally has a mixture of amino acids, lactates, urea, and electrolytes, called the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF). The NMF works to keep the skin moisturized in healthy individuals, but there may be a loss of NMF in the aging process. When skin moisture content dips below 10% in the epidermis, then we begin to see dry skin.
Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is the main cause of dry skin. This is a process whereby the water originating from deep within the epidermis moves upwards toward the surface, and is lost to evaporation. In order to keep the skin moisturized, and to heal dry skin we must:
Maintain or repair the skin barrier
Prevent dry, cracked skin
Increase water content with hydration or humectants
Reduce TEWL with occlusive agents
Restore the lipid barrier’s ability to attract, hold, and redistribute water
Top tips for maintaining skin moisture
Especially as weather gets colder, place a humidifier in a patient’s room to increase the moisture in the air and prevent dehyrdration.
Avoid hot showers, as hot water will further dry out skin. Keep water warm, and pat skin dry after bathing, avoiding rubbing or friction.
Use an occlusive agent (like Aquaphor, Vaseline, or A&D) to prevent further water loss.
For severe dry skin, use a humectant followed by an occlusive (for example, ammonium lactate products such as Amlactin or Lac Hydrin followed by an occlusive like Eucerin).
Skilled Wound Care is a mobile surgical practice committed to transforming the chronic wound care model in nursing facilities. Wound care experts make weekly bedside visits to patients in long-term care facilities, avoiding transfers to hospitals or clinics. Our expert physicians give patients the most up-to-date and effective wound treatments, and educate facility staff on how to help patients continue to heal quickly and effectively between visits. This model of collaborative care allows SWC’s physicians to improve patients’ lives and health outcomes, to empower nursing staff, and to raise public awareness. Skilled Wound Care, along with its nurse and nursing home partners, is working every day to positively transform traditional nursing home wound care.