Revitalizing Skin Wellness: A Critical Aspect of HME

Published in Complex Rehab on October 02, 2023

Revitalizing Skin Wellness: A Critical Aspect of HME By Heather Trumm, Director of VGM Wound Care

There are many reasons why skin health is so important in the HME space. Why? For a couple of reasons: 

  1. If we care for our skin properly, we can prevent wounds which indirectly keeps all healthcare costs down. Not to mention the decrease in physical, emotional, and psychosocial pain one goes through when dealing with a wound.  
  2. HME customers tend to have multiple co-morbidities, which put them at greater risk for developing a wound and if they do develop a wound, the chances of it healing are not great. As HME providers, we are a crucial piece in keeping our customers healthy, and that includes skin health considerations. 

The following information can help your customers maintain healthy skin and prevent wounds. 

About the Skin 

The skin is our largest organ and has many functions that help us stay healthy. The skin protects us from bacterial and viral pathogens as well as ultraviolet radiation, water, and mechanical and chemical stressors.  

The skin also helps regulate our body temperature through the sweat glands. Sensory receptors in the skin allow input for touch and pain throughout the body. The skin makes vitamin D in the presence of sunlight, and that’s very important for our health. Vitamin D serves many functions in the body, including building and maintaining strong bones, reducing cancer cell growth, controlling infections, and reducing inflammation. Vitamin D also plays a huge role in wound healing by accelerating the wound healing process, increasing the immune response, and the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action. 

The skin has three primary layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the subcutaneous layer. The epidermis is the outer layer of the skin, and its width is similar to a piece of paper - very thin. The epidermis (outer layer) is constantly shedding dead skin cells, and the dermis (middle layer) is producing new ones to replace them. The subcutaneous layer supports the dermis, provides insulation, and stores fat.

Causes of Skin Damage

Many factors, both internal and external, can affect a healthy skin barrier and make skin more vulnerable to injury and damage, including: 

Support Skin Integrity with Proven Prevention Strategies 

Following the skin and risk assessments, it’s time to develop a custom skin integrity care plan to address unique needs of each patient or resident that helps support and maintain a balanced pH level. Healthy skin has a pH level of about 4.5 to 5.5. Consider the following ways to prevent skin issues: 

  1. Choose a gentle skin cleanser that supports a balanced pH level between 4.5-5.5. Avoid the use of alkaline soaps and cleansers.  
  2. MOISTURIZE with the recommended amount of moisturizer at least once a day and after bathing. Silicone products can provide breathable protection, and you want to choose products that prevent trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). TEWL occurs when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin’s surface. The more TEWL that is lost, the weaker the skin’s barrier function. Nutrient-rich creams with dimethicone have been proven to reduce moisture loss, which in turn keeps the TEWL at a minimum.   
  3. Use moisturizers and skin barriers with these ingredients:   
    • Dimethicone: Silicone polymer that is an excellent skin protectant and is well tolerated by compromised skin and sensitive facial skin. 
    • Glycerin: Natural skin humectant that prevents moisture loss and supports proper skin function. 
    • Phospholipids: Class of lipids that support skin’s natural barrier function. 
    • Oleosomes: Micron-sized spheres of emollient plant oils to provide lasting moisturization. 
  4. Use creams and ointments over lotions and avoid rubbing of the skin.   

With all the functions of the skin, it’s important for us to keep it healthy and intact, just as we keep our heart healthy by exercising and eating right. One way we can keep our skin healthy is to moisturize it. Maintaining skin integrity is widely accepted as being cost-effective compared to dealing with wounds or skin tears. Another reason why skin health is so important - it saves money and anguish! 

By simply moisturizing twice daily to keep our skin healthy and prevent bacteria from entering our skin, we are staying healthy and decreasing potential health concerns and issues. 

For more information on a skin health program for your HME business, please contact me at heather.trumm@vgm.com


TAGS

  1. hme
  2. vgm
  3. wound care

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