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9 Skin Care Products for Pressure Ulcer Prevention

Lotions, cleansers, and powders to reduce Pressure Ulcers


Updated May 30, 2014

Doctor and nurse examining patient in hospital room
Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The Prevalence of Pressure Ulcers. An estimated 60,000 U.S. hospital patients die from complications due to hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, sometimes referred to as "bed sores", each year. Several studies from nursing journals, wound care journals, and even the New England Journal of Medicine, have all concluded a similar prevalence. Each year, almost 3 million patients are treated in acute care hospitals for pressure ulcers.

The cost to the U.S. health care system? Most estimates set the cost of this single hospital-acquired condition at $11 billion annually. Depending on how the various studies slice the cost data, the cost to treat a pressure ulcer in a single patient ranges from as low as $10,000 to $125,000 per patient.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid believe almost 260,000 pressure ulcers per year are preventable. That means patients, in very large quantities, are admitted to the hospital for one condition, and while staying there, develop a pressure ulcer. As a result, the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 and the CMS' Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) Fiscal Year 2009 Final Rule have made hospital-acquired pressure ulcers a big target for reducing wasteful cost.

Medical Supplies proven to aid in prevention of pressure ulcers

Manufacturers have developed several products that have proven effective in reducing the incidence of hospital-acquired pressure ulcers, and treating the high-risk conditions that can often lead to them. The most common types of products include skin-care creams, lotions, cleansers, and powders, absorbent dry pads, specialized adult briefs, and pressure redistribution mattresses and pads. In the Operating Room, surgical teams can use absorbent table pads, sheets, and gel positioners.

Skin Repair Applications

There are now gentle solutions for most skin issues. New solutions on the market avoid the use of harsh soaps and detergents, but are still able to lift the dirt and oils from the skin. Thus, the already compromised skin is not damaged any further. It would be worth evaluating the products on the market that are proven to be pH balanced, non-cytotoxic, non-sensitizing, non-irritating and non-allergenic.

Another key feature to consider: skin protectants that contain silicones powerful enough to help prevent excessive transepidermal water loss (e-TEWL), yet unlike petroleum-derived products, will not occlude the skin's natural breathability. In addition, some of these products include zinc oxide to help protect the skin from moisture, incontinence, perspiration or wound exudate.

  1. No-rinse cleansing body lotions moisturize and provide light protection from incontinence. Used for the cleansing of the face, body, perineal and peristomal areas.

  2. Foaming body cleansers are typically no-rinse foams for head-to-toe cleansing and conditioning.Used to clean the hair, face, body, perineal and peristomal areas.

  3. Antimicrobial cleansers are no-rinse cleansers that inhibit bacterial growth. These too can be used for head-to-toe cleansing and conditioning.

  4. Skin repair cream helps restore the skin's natural moisture balance. Skin repair creams can be used by all patients, including those who are at high risk for skin breakdown.

  5. Skin protectants are moisturizers and and provide a light moisture barrier. These skin protectant products are typically indicated to help relieve discomfort associated with light incontinence or diaper rash. Perfect for irritated (but not broken) skin.

  6. Silicone-based skin protectants are creams that provide substantial skin protection against excessive transepidermal water loss (e-TEWL). Best for skin conditions associated with diaper rash caused by wetness, urine and/or stool. The silicone protectant can usually last for up to three to five washings, and remains semi-permeable and non-occlusive.

  7. Skin protectant pastes are considered ideal for normal to broken-down skin and peristomal areas. These thick pastes protect the skin against moisture, itching and minor irritation. Some of these pastes include zinc-oxide to protect against moisture and minor irritation. The zinc oxide barrier protects against moisture and minor irritation. Other ingredients in the paste cool and calm inflamed skin, while others help with minor absorption of exudate from broken skin.

  8. Clear skin protectants provide a clear protective moisture barrier that adheres to wet, macerated skin and allows for easy monitoring of the skin underneath it. This type of protectant is recommended for use in the perineal area and lower extremities to protect against minor skin irritation and dryness. It is an invisible ointment that shields the skin against excessive moisture from incontinence or wound drainage. Some of these protectant products have the ability to help wick excessive moisture away from the skin.

  9. Antifungal creams and powders help treat fungal infections while delivering nutrients to the skin. Antifungals help relieve burning, irritation, and itching.

In future articles I will address the other categories of products that have been developed to prevent the incidence of pressure ulcers.

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