Feed the need: How advanced skin care could help improve outcomes.

Nurse applying moisturizer to elderly patient’s hand.The basics

Skin care basics include cleaning, moisturizing and protecting the skin. Historically, this has been done with soap, water and inexpensive, easy-to-obtain products containing petrolatum or mineral oil.

But soap strips and dries out the skin, making it more vulnerable to damage. Liquid cleansers containing surfactants are more commonly used today and are not only gentler to the epidermis, but are often pH-balanced as well. Moisturizers seal in the body’s hydration and are particularly helpful in areas with low temperature and humidity, which can dry out the skin. The technical term for this is excessive transepidermal water loss (e-TEWL).

When incontinence or wound exudate is an issue, skin barriers and protectants should be used. These products should be stocked next to your advanced wound care products and incontinence products. They provide a physical barrier between the skin and harmful body fluids and offer protection from breakdown. Zinc oxide is a common ingredient and one that offers good protection, creating a thick barrier that stays in contact with the skin. Another option is the use of products containing karaya gum; these products provide protection because they do not dissolve in water but rather absorb water to form viscous colloidal material.

Bath time

Gone are the days of bed baths using bath basins and cold, dirty water— an inconvenient and time-consuming method that is uncomfortable for patients and creates an infection control issue as well.

A complete bed or bedside bath can be given safely, inexpensively, and comfortably with specially formulated systems consisting of moist wipes for each body segment. Such systems are easy for the caregiver, and patients and residents love them because they actually get clean and feel refreshed without getting cold while being bathed. Some of these advanced products have additives that leave a protective barrier or moisturizer on the skin, saving the caregiver the extra step of applying it separately. Look for a variety of different systems such as antibacterial formulas, scented and non-scented types, and shampoo cap systems. Scout out products with large, soft cloths that are easy to remove from the container and have safe, pH-balanced ingredients that do not leave a heavy film on the skin.

Four-in-one products perform quadruple duty while saving time, money, and the frustration of handling and stocking multiple skin care products. Consider replacing your cleansers with 4-in-1 products that clean, moisturize, protect, and nourish in one simple step. There are even antimicrobial versions of these cleansers that work to high bioburden areas. Smart care equals cost-decrease odors in and time-effective care.
Incontinence cleanups can be quick, gentle, and easy with pericare wipes. Consider them as a cost-effective, time-saving alternative to perineal sprays, washcloths, and barriers.

Research and development

The ultimate goal of skin and wound care product research is to explore new ways to help prevent and treat skin problems. Loss of skin integrity is often what drives patients and caregivers to seek help. Only through the most advanced science can we reverse the suffering from poor skin function. Consider yourself in the skin-cell-saving business and watch your clinical outcomes soar.

The latest skin care products are more advanced than surfactant-based cleansers; instead, they use high-tech ingredients called phospholipids to cleanse the skin.
Phospholipids are derived from vegetable oils and offer the gentlest form of cleansing available. These products clean the skin without stripping precious natural oils from vulnerable tissue. Be sure to ask your manufacturers for these key ingredients. Just remember: surfactants out, phospholipids in.
Advanced skin care has arrived, and you should be offering its benefits to every at- risk resident and patient. Investigate these products, choose your product mix, and start offering your residents and patients what they need. What to look for?

  • Surfactant-free cleansers that use phospholipid technology to clean. All-in-one or 4-in-1 products that offer four steps in one: cleansing, moisturizing, protecting, and nourishing.
  • State-of-the-art moisturizers that contain oils such as canola oil, olive oil (also known as Olea europaea), sunflower oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil, corn oil, jojoba oil, and borage oil, and vitamins, proteins, as well as carbohydrates and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients can actually replace lost epidermal lipids and help heal the skin.
  • Moisturizers and protectants that contain laser-treated amino acids like L-cysteine, L-proline, glycine, and L-taurine (these are more bio-available and can easily penetrate the skin without irritation) and antioxidants that protect against breakdown caused by oxidation or “rusting” of the skin. The skin is made up primarily of collagen, a protein. We can help replenish lost protein through the use of products that contain amino acids. Antioxidants are the skin’s “army,” protecting it from environmental damage and helping to naturally keep it healthy.
  • High-tech barriers such as those containing complex silicones like cetyl dimethicone, cyclomethicone, cyclopentasiloxane, dimethicone copolymer, dimethicone copolyol, dimethiconol, divinyldimethicone, and FDA active ingredients and OTC drugs.

Feed the need

Just as we need good nutrition to survive, our skin can now be nourished from the outside in. Products containing specially treated amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins nourish and strengthen the skin, providing an insurance policy against skin breakdown, tears, and wounds. These products not only improve the skin’s appearance and texture, but also assist to build collagen and help to develop skin’s resistance to damage.

Protecting and reducing damage to skin is the name of the game. Skin is the largest organ and should always be a pivotal point of your care.

Suggested reading:

  1. Fleck CA and McCord D. The Dawn of Advanced Skin Care. Extended Care Product News – ISSN: 0895-2906 – Volume 95 – Issue 5 – September 2004 – Pages: 32, 34-39.
  2. Fleck CA and McCord D. Care and Feeding of the Body’s Largest Organ. Extended Care Product News – ISSN: 0895-2906 – Volume 95 – Issue 4 – September 2004 – Pages: 28-31.