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Wound Care Insights: How To Moisturize (Part 1)

During the summer months, keeping skin moisturized is critical. Between hot weather, cold dry air from air conditioning, and low humidity, the skin is especially vulnerable. Losing moisture makes wounds harder to heal and increases the risk of infection or other issues. So in this two-part installment of Wound Care Insights, we’ll cover everything you need to know about moisturization!

Moisturization is the act of increasing the water content of the epidermis to make it softer and more pliant. While there are a variety of different agents that can help the skin retain water, moisturizers can be divided into two categories: trapping agents that keep water in and drawing agents that bring moisture in.

During the aging process, the skin undergoes a number of changes: oil-producing glands become less active and decrease in number; skin sensitivity to irritants increase; the relative thickness of skin decreases; blood vessels are more fragile; elasticity decreases; collagen production decreases; and the subcutaneous fat layer is reduced.

All of these changes give aging skin its characteristically thin, pale, loose, and friable nature. This is also what renders elderly patients at high risk for dry skin, and skin diseases, and why knowing the ins and outs of good skincare is critical for all of us in the wound care field!

When skin moisture content dips below 10% in the epidermis, then we begin to see dry skin.

In order to keep the skin moisturized, it’s essential to do five major things:

  1. Maintain or repair the skin barrier;

  2. Prevent dry, cracked skin;

  3. Increase the water content of the skin with hydration or humectants;

  4. Reduce water loss with occlusive agents; and 

  5. Restore the lipid barrier’s ability to attract, hold, and redistribute water.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll talk about three big groups of healing agents and when to use them:

  • Occlusive Agents (that keep water in)

  • Humectants (that draw water in or up from deeper in the dermis)

  • Emollients or Lubricants (that smooth and heal the skin by filling in gaps)

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series!


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.

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