Why is skin important?
Our skin is almost indestructible. It is constantly being renewed, and has both protective and adaptive properties. Some of its functions include:
- the prevention of fluid loss
- temperature regulation by evaporation of perspiration and heat storage
- the production of vitamin D, the excretion of metabolic wastes
- identifying the sensations of touch, pain
- temperature, and pressure
- the ability to use/absorb some drugs like steroids and hormones
- prevent allergic reactions.
What factors influence skin?
Age, physical limitations, disease(s), trauma, nutritional state, and hygiene all affect the appearance, condition, health, suppleness and integrity of your skin. The natural aging process results in your skin becoming thinner, less elastic, more tissue-paper-like, and more easily damaged during your daily activities.
Underlying medical conditions, or the medications used to treat them, (such as diabetes, kidney or liver problems, heart, blood vessel and lung disease), can increase the risk of bruising, trauma, drying, splitting, cracking, and peeling.
Thin, sensitive, fragile skin can be jeopardized by simply bumping or brushing up against an object or scratching or rubbing an itching area. If dryness, chapping, or peeling are also present, a broken area may result and become an open sore. If there is an underlying disease present, the sore can increase in size, and become infected. It can cause much physical discomfort and be quite costly.
Physical limitations can result in skin care problems if mobility is restricted or severely hampered. This happens to persons with total body or long leg casts, traction, strokes, hip joint replacement, arthritis, or other disabling conditions.
What are some common skin care problems that need attention?
If not properly treated, the following list of problems may lead to broken skin, ulcerations, infections, and chronic wounds. If any of the following happens to you, consult your doctor:
- Development of a wound, especially on the lower leg or foot
- Dry, cracked peeling skin
- Bumps with pus
- Dermatitis (dry or weeping)
- Allergic reactions
- Multiple or extensive skin tears
- Fissures of the skin on the feet, especially the heels
What is the correct way to clean and moisturize the skin?
Cleansing of the skin needs to be done with gentle care and a pH balanced product to prevent trauma, and the drying/stripping of natural oils. Moisturizing and/or lubricating the skin after bathing, or at other times during the day, and at bedtime will help increase the skin's softness and suppleness. It also decreases the risk of maceration, trauma, friction, itching, and general discomfort.
- May be in a cream, foam, gel, liquid, bar, or lotion form.
- May be soap based or non-soap based.
- May be medicated and available by prescription only.
- Need to be natural with minimal to no preservatives.
- May require water for application and rinsing. Use lukewarm or room temperature (never hot) water.
- Need to be removed gently and thoroughly.
Read the label and know what you are buying as some products:
- May be creams, lotions, barriers, or sealants.
- Need to be natural (beeswax, vitamin E, etc.) with no preservatives.
- Should not include alcohol in any form. (It dries the skin.)
- Use in a layered effect to maximize moisture retention in the skin cells/layers.
- May have a silicone or petrolatum base that acts as an occlusive barrier against moisture loss, chemical irritation, and friction.
- May have a lanolin base. (Watch for skin sensitivity.)
- May contain up to 95% water.