Summer is right around the corner! Time to look forward to warmer days, fun in the sun, and maybe even a nice beach vacation.
It’s important to have proper skin care all year round, but in the heat of summer, it is even more essential to take steps to reduce the risk of skin breakdown.
How to Care for Skin During the Summer
For people with spinal cord injury (SCI), as the temperature rises, so does the risk of skin-related problems from excess moisture. Thankfully, there are some basic steps you can take to keep your skin healthy.
Use Barrier Products: It’s always important to use a barrier product to protect skin during the hot days of summer, but there are some things to bear in mind. Choosing the right barrier product is essential. For example, petroleum-based skin barriers need to be applied frequently as they easily wash off from water and sweat. Barrier products create an occlusive environment that reduces the skin’s ability to breathe, especially under dressings, clothing, and wraps. Choose a barrier product that promotes breathability and will stay on the skin with movement.
Keep Skin Clean: Soap and water can dry out skin, cause irritation, and damage skin proteins and lipids. Use skin cleansers that are hypo-allergenic and have a low pH range (between 4.0 and 5.8 is ideal). While antibacterial soaps and cleansers sound healthy, they have higher pH levels (as high as 9.5 – 10) that can damage skin. Skin folds and creases should be cleaned twice per day to help avoid skin breakdown from moisture buildup.
Moisturize: Even though we’re talking about the dangers of excess moisture in the summer, it’s still important to moisturize skin immediately following bathing to keep skin supple and fresh. Choose a moisturizer that is free from scents and perfumes and that is smoothly and easily applied to the skin. Avoiding excess sun exposure and wearing breathable clothing are also advised.
How to Reduce Risk of Skin Injury
It’s not possible to remove all moisture and sweat from your skin, so during the summer, it’s extra important to use caution when moving about. The risk of shearing and friction injury increases during the summer, so be extra mindful of sliding motions across bedsheets, wheelchairs, or other surfaces.
Decrease risk of pressure ulcers by keeping skin as dry as possible and repositioning frequently, especially when exposed to the sun and/or heat. Skin should be inspected regularly for signs of breakdown and/or injury.
How Bowel Care Affects Skin Integrity
During the summer months, it’s more important than ever to maintain a consistent and effective bowel care program to reduce the risk of skin breakdown. For people with SCI, constipation can spike in the summertime, so staying hydrated and consuming a diet rich in fiber is very important.
A regular bowel care program helps prevent excess moisture build-up and protects skin. It’s preferable to complete a bowel program on a commode as gravity assists with bowel movements, but for people at risk for skin breakdown, the benefits of a seated position versus a side-lying position should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Additional Tips to Prevent Skin Breakdown
- Eat a balanced diet that includes fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
- Stay hydrated and avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, and alcohol.
- Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin A, C, E, and K as well as the minerals zinc, iron, and copper.
- Call your healthcare provider if you experience any redness or excess sweating.
Enemeez® Products Can Help with Proper Bowel Care
The Enemeez® formulation is a hyperosmotic, stool-softening laxative that works by drawing water into the bowel from surrounding body tissues. The docusate sodium in this mini-enema product prepares the stool to readily mix with watery fluids. It softens and loosens stool and initiates a normal, replicated bowel movement, typically within 2-15 minutes.
Enemeez® Plus is the same formulation as Enemeez®, with the addition of 20mg of benzocaine, assisting in the anesthetization of the rectum and lower bowel. This formulation was developed for patients who experience autonomic dysreflexia, hemorrhoids, fissures, or painful bowel movements.
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Disclaimer: The material contained is for reference purposes only. Quest Products, LLC does not assume responsibility for patient care. Consult a physician prior to use. Copyright 2021 Quest Products, LLC.