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Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: LIFE Center
Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago: LIFE Center

Skin Care: Common Problems

Reviewed August 2012
Author: Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago - Nursing Practice Council
Rashes – usually in groin, armpits, under the breast and in other areas where skin touches skin
Sign: Pimples or red blotches
Causes
• Bowel or bladder accidents
• Sweat or other moisture
• Lack of air
• Excess absorbent product used
Prevention
• Keep areas clean and dry.
• Allow air to reach rash area.
• Follow bladder and bowel program.
• Check diapers or pads often.
• Do not apply ointment or powder unless ordered by your doctor.

Edema
Sign: Swelling of the hands and/or feet
Cause: Decreased movement in arms and legs
Prevention
• Keep arms or legs up.
• Wear elastic stockings or support hose.
• Do not rub swollen area.

Burns –can occur anywhere
Signs: red areas or blisters on skin
Causes
• Cigarettes (from ashes you can't feel)
• Hot water or radiators
• Heating lamps or heating pads.
• Cold packs
Prevention
• Test shower or bath water.
• Use care in working with hot liquids and cooking utensils.
• If a burn occurs, call your doctor and apply cold water for 30 minutes.
• Do not set an ashtray on your lap or arm boards.
• Do not sit too close to radiators and heating systems.
• Do not rest hot liquids on your lap or between your legs.
• Do not apply ointment unless ordered by your doctor.

Friction Burns – affect the ischium (sitting bone) or sacrum (tailbone)
Sign: Skin scraped off
Cause: Movement of an object against the skin
Prevention
• Wear clothes when using a sliding board.
• Do not let anyone pull your bare skin across a sheet.

Blisters – can happen anywhere
Sign: fluid–filled area of skin
Causes
• Tight leg bag straps or externals
• Rubbing or friction
Prevention
• Cover the affected area.
• Do not break the blister. This causes infection.
• Treat the area only if the blister opens.

Frostbite – affects fingers and toes
Sign: skin turns pale or white then turns red
Causes: Loss of feeling and being out in very cold temperatures
Prevention
• Wear warm boots and gloves in cold weather.
• Do not stay outside for a long time in cold weather.
• If exposed to cold, place area in warm water and call your doctor.
• Do not put the area into hot or cold water.

Bruises – can happen anywhere
Sign: Changes in skin color
Cause: Careless transfers or turning
Prevention: Pad the areas of your body most likely to be bumped.

Foot Problems
Sign: Dry skin
Cause: Lack of blood flow or air to the feet
Prevention
• Keep feet very clean.
• Soak feet in warm water then remove dead skin.
• Use oil to keep feet soft.
• People with diabetes need to learn proper foot care from their doctor or nurse.

Ingrown Toenail – occurs on big toe
Signs
• Warm, red skin
• Swelling around the toe
• Drainage from skin around the toe
Cause: Toenails cut too short or round in the corners
Prevention
• Cut toenails straight across.
• If a toenail becomes ingrown, call your doctor.
• People with diabetes should generally have a foot doctor trim the toenails properly.
• Anyone who notices a change in feeling of the feet should contact their doctor.

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