Caregiver Awareness: Skin Tears
Your skin is the largest organ in your body and plays a vital role in protecting you from illness and infection. As you get older, your skin changes, becoming thinner, dryer, and more vulnerable to damage and infections. This means that taking care of your parents’ skin and helping them to avoid problems with their skin is an important part of your caregiver journey with your aging loved ones.
One particularly unpleasant type of skin damage that becomes common during later years is skin tears. These injuries can be extremely painful, but also leave the skin at risk of allowing bacteria and germs in, leading to infections and illness. Once this type of skin injury occurs, it is also much more difficult for an elderly person to heal completely, leaving them open to infection and illness for days or even weeks after the injury.
Some common causes and contributors to skin tears among the elderly include:
• Inadequate protein intake
• Inadequate vitamin intake
• Dehydration or inconsistent levels of hydration
• Decreased mobility that can lead to pressure
• Reduce pain sensations that may cause the senior to pick or pull aimlessly at their skin without realizing that they were causing injuries
• History of skin tears
• Chronic pain or tingling in the skin that can cause the compulsion to scratch, pull, or pick at the skin
• Impaired circulation
• Chronically dry skin
• Balance problems that may lead to bumps, bruises, and impact friction
Often a skin tear seems like it developed suddenly, but in reality it is a continuation of skin breakdown that has been happening for some time. This is why taking care of your aging loved ones’ skin as a part of your regular care routine is important to maintaining healthy skin at all times, rather than just responding when they do experience a skin tear or other form of skin damage.
Some ways that you can help your parents avoid skin tears and other skin injuries include:
• Encourage your parents to wear long pants and long sleeves to guard their skin against scrapes and bumps
• Take caution when removing tape, bandages, or other sticky materials from the skin. Hold their skin taut so that it does not move when peeling away the stickiness, and remove the bandage in one movement
• Make sure they drink plenty of fluids to maintain hydration
• Pad or upholster sharp edges of furniture and corners of walls if your seniors have mobility issues and frequently bump or hit items
• Encourage them to move around and change positions frequently to prevent pressure breakdown
• Cleanse skin carefully using non-irritating products and warm, never hot, water
• Moisturize the skin daily with high quality skin cream that does not contain alcohol and features vitamins, natural oils, and fatty acids to nurture the skin and encourage natural moisture maintenance
• Discourage scratching or picking at the skin, particularly when there is an existing skin injury. If they are experiencing itching, use products that soothe the itching and consult their doctor about ways to ease the discomfort while protecting their skin.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Philadelphia, PA, contact the caring professionals at Reliant At Home Care today (610) 674-6860.