Each issue, Apple Bites brings you a tool you can apply in your daily practice. Here’s an overview of performing a comprehensive skin assessment.
In the healthcare setting, a comprehensive skin assessment is a process in which the entire skin of a patient is examined for abnormalities. It requires looking at and touching the skin from head to toe, with a particular emphasis on bony prominences and skin folds. Comprehensive skin assessment is repeated on a regular basis to determine whether changes in the skin’s condition have occurred. The goal of a skin assessment is to identify problem areas promptly for treatment and prevention. (more…)
Prevention of pressure ulcers and skin breakdown begins with a comprehensive risk assessment. Most providers use a skin risk assessment tool, such as the Braden or Norton scale. While these tools have been validated to predict pressure ulcer development, their use alone isn’t considered a comprehensive assessment, and frequently the individual risk factors they identify aren’t carried through to the plan of care. (more…)
Assessing moisture and pressure risk in elderly patients continues to be a focus for clinicians in all settings, particularly long-term care. Ongoing research challenges our ideas about and practices for cleansing and protecting damaged skin. Until recently, most wound care clinicians have cleansed long-term care patients’ skin with mild soap and water. But several studies have shown pH-balanced cleansers are more efficient than soap and water for cleansing the skin of incontinent patients.
Various terms are used to describe skin breakdown related to moisture—incontinence-associated dermatitis, perineal dermatitis, diaper rash, intertriginal dermatitis, intertrigo, moisture-related skin damage, moisture-associated skin damage, and even periwound dermatitis. This article uses moisture-associated skin damage (MASD) because it encompasses many causes of skin breakdown related to moisture. Regardless of what we call the condition, we must do everything possible to prevent this painful and costly problem.
Start with an overall assessment of the patient’s skin. Consider the texture and note dryness, flaking, redness, lesions, macerated areas, excoriation, denudement, and other color changes. (See Identifying pressure and moisture characteristics by clicking the PDF icon above.)
Assessing MASD risk
A patient’s risk of MASD can be assessed in several ways. Two of the most widely used pressure-ulcer risk scales, the Norton and Braden scales, address moisture risk. The Norton and Braden subscales should drive your plan for preventing skin breakdown related to moisture or pressure. The cause of breakdown (moisture, pressure, or shear/friction) must be identified, because treatment varies with the cause.
Both the Norton and Braden scales capture activity, mobility, and moisture scores. The Braden scale addresses sensory perception, whereas the Norton scale identifies mental condition. (See Subscales identifying pressure, shear, and moisture risk by clicking the PDF icon above.) Also, be aware that two scales have been published for perineal risk, but neither has been used widely.
You must differentiate pressure- and moisture-related conditions to determine correct treatment. Patients who are repositioned by caregivers are at risk for friction or shear. Also, know that agencies report pressure-ulcer prevalence. Care providers no longer classify mucous-membrane pressure areas in skin prevalence surveys; mucous membranes aren’t skin and don’t have the same tissue layers. Furthermore, don’t report skin denudement from moisture (unless pressure is present) in prevalence surveys.
When moisture causes skin breakdown
Skin has two major layers—epidermis and dermis. The epidermis itself has five layers: The outermost is the stratum corneum; it contains flattened, keratin protein–containing cells, which aid water absorption. These cells contain water-soluble compounds called natural moisturizing factor (NMF), which are surrounded by a lipid layer to keep NMF within the cell. When skin is exposed to moisture, its temperature decreases, the barrier function weakens, and skin is more susceptible to pressure and friction/shear injury. Also, when urea in urine breaks down into ammonia, an alkaline pH results, which may reactivate proteolytic and lipolytic enzymes in the stool. (See Picturing moisture and pressure effects by clicking the PDF icon above.)
Caring for moisture-related skin breakdown
The standard of care for moisture-related skin breakdown includes four major components: cleanse, moisturize, protect, and contain. Specific products used for each component vary with the facility’s product formulary.
Gently wash the area using a no-rinse cleanser with a pH below 7.0. Don’t rub the skin. Pat dry.
Use creams containing emollients or humectants. Humectants attract water to skin cells and help hold water in the cells; don’t use these products if the skin is overhydrated. Emollients slow water loss from skin and replace intracellular lipids.
Options for skin protectants include:
• liquid film-forming acrylate sprays or wipes
• ointments with a petroleum, zinc oxide, or dimethicone base
• skin pastes. Don’t remove these products totally at each cleansing, but do remove stool, urine, or drainage from the surface and apply additional paste afterward. Every other day, remove the paste down to the bare skin using a no-rinse cleanser or mineral oil.
Be sure to separate skinfolds and use products that wick moisture rather than trap it. These may include:
• commercial moisture-wicking products
• a light dusting with powder containing refined cornstarch or zinc oxide—not cornstarch from the kitchen or powder with talc as the only active ingredient
• abdominal pads.
To keep moisture away from skin, use absorbent underpads with wicking properties, condom catheters (for males), fecal incontinence collectors, fecal tubes (which require a healthcare provider order), or adult briefs with wicking or gel properties. Call a certified ostomy or wound care nurse for tips on applying and increasing wear time for fecal incontinence collectors.
If 4″ × 4″ gauze pads or ABD pads are saturated more frequently than every 2 hours, consider applying an ostomy or specially designed wound pouch to the area. Collecting drainage allows measurement and protects skin from the constant wetness of a saturated pad.
Don’t neglect the basics, for example, know that wet skin is more susceptible to breakdown. Turn the patient and change his or her position on schedule. Change linens and underpads when damp, and consider using a low-air-loss mattress or bed or mattress with microclimate technology.
Also, be aware that fungal rashes should be treated with appropriate medications. If the patient’s skin isn’t too moist, consider creams that absorb into the skin; a skin-protecting agent can be used as a barrier over the cream. Besides reviewing and using the standards of care, you may refer to the Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis Intervention Tool, which has categories related to skin damage. See the “Incontinence-Associated Dermatitis Intervention Tool” (IADIT).
Bottom line on skin breakdown
To help prevent skin breakdown related to moisture, assess patients’ skin appropriately, determine treatment using evidence-based guidelines, and implement an appropriate plan of care.
Black JM, Gray M, Bliss DZ, et al. MASD part 2: incontinence-associated dermatitis and intertriginous dermatitis: a consensus. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2011;38(4):359-70.
Borchert K, Bliss DZ, Savik K, Radosevich DM. The incontinence-associated dermatitis and its severity instrument: development and validation. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2010;37(5):527-35.
Doughty D. Differential assessment of trunk wounds: pressure ulceration versus incontinence-associated dermatitis versus intertriginous dermatitis. Ostomy Wound Manage. 2012;58(4):20-2.
Doughty D, Junkin J, Kurz P, et al. Incontinence-associated dermatitis: consensus statements, evidence-based guidelines for prevention and treatment, and current challenges. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2012;39(3):303-15.
Gray M, Beeckman D, Bliss DZ, et al. Incontinence-associated dermatitis: a comprehensive review and update. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2012;
Gray M, Black JM, Baharestani MM, et al. Moisture-associated skin damage: overview and pathophysiology. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2011;38(3):233-41.
National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel. Prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers: clinical practice guideline.Washington, DC: National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel; 2009.
One of many dreaded tags from a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Survey is F-Tag 314 — Pressure ulcers.
CMS writes, “Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.” (more…)
Pressure-ulcer prevention and management guidelines recommend support-surface therapy to help prevent and treat pressure ulcers. Support surfaces include pads, mattresses, and cushions that redistribute pressure. Full cushions and cushion pads are considered therapeutic support surfaces if used to redistribute a patient’s pressure in a chair or wheelchair.
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) defines support surfaces as “specialized devices for pressure redistribution designed for the management of tissue loads, microclimate, and/or other therapeutic functions.” These surfaces address the mechanical forces associated with skin and tissue injury, such as pressure, shear, friction, and excess moisture and heat. (See Clearing up the confusion.)
Incidence density best measure of pressure-ulcer prevention program According to the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP), incidence density is the best quality measure of pressure-ulcer prevention programs. Pressure-ulcer incidence density is calculated by dividing the number of inpatients who develop a new pressure ulcer by 1,000 patient days. Using the larger denominator of patient days allows fair comparisons between institutions…
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By Rosalyn S. Jordan, BSN, RN, MSc, CWOCN, WCC, and Sandra Phipps, BSN, RN, MBA, WCC Pressure-ulcer prevention and management guidelines recommend support-surface therapy to help prevent and treat pressure ulcers. Support surfaces include pads, mattresses, and cushions that redistribute pressure. Full cushions and cushion pads are considered therapeutic support surfaces if used to redistribute a patient’s pressure in a…
By Jeri Lundgren, BSN, RN, PHN, CWS, CWCN Prevention of pressure ulcers and skin breakdown begins with a comprehensive risk assessment. Most providers use a skin risk assessment tool, such as the Braden or Norton scale. While these tools have been validated to predict pressure ulcer development, their use alone isn’t considered a comprehensive assessment, and frequently the individual risk…
The first 24 hours after a patient’s admission are critical in preventing pressure ulcer development or preventing an existing ulcer from worsening. A skin inspection, risk assessment, and temporary care plan should all be implemented during this time frame. Essentially, it’s the burden of the care setting to prove to insurers, regulators, and attorneys the pressure ulcer was present on admission and interventions were put into place to avoid worsening of the condition. Of course, patients also benefit from having their condition identified and treated promptly. (more…)
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When treating people for wounds, the care team preforms both a comprehensive diagnosis and comprehensive treatment, Kathy Khandaker, director of wound care at Community Hospitals and Wellness Centers-Bryan, told the Bryan Rotary Club at its Friday meeting.
The wound care clinic opened at CHWC in 2006, added ostomy care in 2007, continence care in 2010 and added a full-time physician in 2015. The care team includes a wound care nurse, a hyperbaric oxygen therapy technician and a receptionist in addition to the physician. (more…)
Chronic venous leg ulcers (CVLUs) affect nearly 2.2 million Americans annually, including an estimated 3.6% of people over the age of 65. Given that CVLU risk increases with age, the global incidence is predicted to escalate dramatically because of the growing population of older adults. Annual CVLU treatment-related costs to the U.S. healthcare system alone are upwards of $3.5 billion, which are directly related to long healing times and recurrence rates of over 50%.
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Accurate assessment and documentation of wounds is essential for developing a comprehensive plan of care. Photography now plays a key role in wound care. The use of digital photography has enhanced the reliability and accuracy of wound documentation. Though a wound assessment in patient files includes details such as location, depth, odor, condition of surrounding tissue and other details, a visual record can be worth even more.
Digital photography is becoming a more prevalent documentation tool. According to an article published in McKnight’s, forensic nursing experts recommend using photographs to document injury. The photos show both how an injury occurred and how it is healing.
The National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP) also supports photography as a more accurate means for assessment of wound dimensions and wound base over time.
A visual confirmation to the written record, these images:
Facilitate better diagnosis
Enhance clinical documentation
Help to monitor the progress of wound healing
Help prevent litigation in wound management
Allow inter-disciplinary communication among the wound care team
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