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Caring for Your Skin in the Heat
As temperatures heat up there is a higher chance of skin-related issues, such as infections, for someone who has a spinal cord injury. It is important to remember that skin is particularly vulnerable, as the body is already focused on protecting other areas. During the summer months in particular, protection from excess moisture is essential, as under dressings, wraps, or offloading devices can cause increased moisture retention to the skin.
Use of Barrier Products in the Summer
As the temperatures rise in the summer it is important to use some type of skin barrier to protect your skin against unwanted moisture. However, there are some parameters to keep in mind when choosing a skin barrier. In general, skin protectants such as petrolatum-based products require frequent applications since they can easily wash off. Additionally, barrier products create an occlusive environment, reducing the skin’s ability to breathe. It is important to choose a barrier option that allows for movement and breathability.
Bowel Care and Hydration
Maintaining a consistent bowel care program to avoid accidents during the summer months is paramount. Constipation can spike in the summertime for those with spinal cord injuries, so staying hydrated is very important. Additionally, skin hygiene is the responsibility not only of the patient and caregiver, but also your healthcare provider, who can guide, supervise, and assist you with additional education on how to keep both your skin and your summer plans on track.
The importance of hygiene cannot be overstated. The skin should be cared for at regular intervals and inspected beyond the wound’s borders for any signs of infection or other issues. There are also plenty of actions you can take to manage problematic summer moisture retention, such as avoiding excessive sun exposure, sitting in wet clothes or on wet cushions or towels.
Keeping Skin Fresh and Clean
To keep skin clean, think beyond soap and water by practicing the use of skin cleansers that minimize the damage to skin proteins and lipids caused by surfactants. Ideally, cleaning agents should be in the lowest pH range or between 4.0 and 5.8. Unfortunately, providers and patients commonly use antibacterial soaps and cleansers that approach pH levels of 9.5 to 10.0. After cleansing the skin, good moisturizing is essential within three minutes of bathing. Skin folds and creases should be cleansed at least twice per day to avoid moisture buildup and skin breakdown.
Simple Tips for Skin Care During the Summer
In addition, below are some simple factors that can help maintain skin integrity and help avoid constipation.
- Stay hydrated and avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, and alcohol.
- Eat a balanced diet that includes protein.
- Include healthy fats in your diet.
- Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin A, C, E, and K as well as the minerals zinc, iron, and copper.
- Shower or bathe using warm water as needed.
- Wear breathable clothing.
- Call your healthcare provider if you experience any redness or excess sweating.
The material contained is for reference purposes only. Alliance Labs, LLC and Summit Pharmaceuticals do not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use.
Copyright 2019 Summit Pharmaceuticals and Alliance Labs LLC J Am Col Certif Wound Spec. 2011 Jun; 3(2): 45–47. Published online 2011 Mar 11. doi: 10.1016/j.jcws.2011.10.00.