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Smooth as Silk: Skincare Tips to Keep Immobile Adults Rash and Infection-Free

If you care for someone who’s immobilized, it’s important to regularly monitor and protect their skin. Prolonged periods of sitting or lying down increase the risk of bed sores and irritation, which if left untreated, can lead to skin, blood, or bone infections.

There’s no way to prevent mobility-related skin problems entirely, but there are things you can do to minimize their impact and help your loved one live more comfortably. But before you dive in and develop a custom skin care regimen, you need to know what to look for.

This article answers the following questions:

What are some common skin problems that affect immobile adults?

The natural aging process causes your skin to become thinner, dryer, and more fragile. Extended periods of immobility can exacerbate these changes, resulting in potentially serious problems, including pressure injuries, diaper rashes, and yeast infections.

Pressure injuries

Pressure injuries, or bed sores, form after sitting or lying in a single position for too long. If someone is immobile, their blood fails to circulate properly. Without adequate blood flow to certain areas of the body, the surrounding tissues die and slow-healing wounds form. Pressure injuries can occur anywhere on the body, but they’re especially common on or near bony areas like the elbows, hips, ankles, and heels. 

Common symptoms of pressure injuries include:

  • Unusual changes in skin color or texture
  • Swelling
  • Visible skin or tissue damage
  • A wound that oozes pus

Diaper rashes

Diaper rash commonly affects immobile adults who wear incontinence products. Although diapers and disposable briefs are designed with comfort in mind, they’re responsible for catching urine and feces. These substances increase the risk of skin irritation as well as fungal and bacterial infections.

Common symptoms of diaper rash include:

  • Pink or red patches of skin near the groin, buttocks, or thighs
  • Persistent itching
  • Small, red, raised bumps

Yeast infections

A yeast infection occurs due to an overgrowth of the Candida fungus. Almost everyone carries around small amounts of Candida, but certain conditions can cause it to multiply rapidly. That’s especially true for people who are bed or wheelchair bound and wear incontinence products.

Common symptoms of a yeast infection include:

  • Red patches of irritated skin
  • Pink or red pustules
  • Intense itching
  • Cracked or peeling skin

How often should I inspect my loved one’s skin?

Many mobility-related skin problems develop slowly, over an extended period. In order to catch them early, before they present more serious issues, it’s important to conduct regular inspections.  

It’s easiest to observe your senior’s skin when helping them bathe or dress. When doing so, focus on areas of the body that are frequently exposed to pressure like the lower back, buttocks, inner knees, and heels.

If your loved one suffers from incontinence, inspect the skin around their groin, buttocks, and thighs during diaper changes. When you do, look for signs of redness, chafing, or irritation. 

Explain what you’re doing during each skin-check, especially if you’re caring for someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s. If they get frustrated or ask you to stop, take a time out and come back later.

What can I do to keep my loved one’s skin healthy?

The easiest way to keep your loved one’s skin healthy is to establish a preventive care routine. It’s important to tailor the program to your senior’s needs, but some activities to consider include:

Regular baths

Regular baths are one of the easiest ways to prevent bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms from collecting on the skin. When helping someone bathe, use warm water and gentle, scent-free soap. Thoroughly wash and rinse all areas of skin that come into contact with sweat, urine, or feces. When it’s time to get out, use a terry cloth towel and gently pat their skin dry.

Good nutrition 

The foods your loved one consumes directly affect the health and condition of their skin. It’s important they eat a balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, and lean-proteins. If your senior has special dietary needs, ask their primary care physician how to incorporate skin-friendly foods that are safe.

Proper hydration

Many seniors fail to drink enough water due to dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). Over time, lack of water causes the skin to lose its elasticity, making it more susceptible to cuts, wounds, and bruises. Specialty products like thick water can help your loved one stay hydrated.

Laundry

Senior skin is very sensitive to many of the additives found in laundry soaps and fabric softeners. To lower the risk of an allergic reaction, consider washing your loved one’s clothing in a mild, scent-free detergent. You might also want to consider swapping out scratchy or itchy materials from their wardrobe with cotton substitutes.

What are some products that can help with skin problems?

At Carewell, we understand the importance of skin care, especially for those who are immobile. Below, we’ve listed 5 of our best-selling products:

McKesson Skin Protectant Ointment

McKesson skin protectant ointment is specifically formulated for people with dry, itchy, or sensitive skin. It features active ingredients like vitamins A, D, and white petrolatum to create a protective barrier that moisturizes the skin. The product is quite versatile and safely provides relief from cuts, scrapes, burns, and chafing.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Unscented
  • Free of allergens, including latex and rubber
  • Easy, hassle-free application
  • Fast-acting relief that lasts for hours

Prevail® Adult Wipes with Lotion, Unscented

If you regularly assist your senior with diaper changes, consider Prevail unscented adult wipes with lotion. These wipes are made from a soft, quilt-like smart fabric that’s hypoallergenic and scent-free. Each wipe contains aloe, chamomile, and vitamin E, allowing for a thorough clean, while preventing skin breakdown.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Incredibly soft
  • Free of allergens like rubber and latex
  • 48 wipes per package
  • Press open lid with single-hand dispensing

Calmoseptine® Ointment, Skin Protectant

Calmoseptine ointment is a multipurpose topical gel that protects the skin and assists with wound healing. The product’s two main ingredients are menthol and zinc oxide. Both are effective at relieving pain, itching, and general discomfort caused by diaper rashes, rectal itch, hemorrhoids, fissures, and more.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Creates a barrier, preventing urine and feces from making contact with the skin
  • Menthol increases circulation to the area, speeding up the healing process
  • Antiseptic ingredients help lower the risk of bacterial and fungal infections
  • Effective at treating stage one pressure injuries

McKesson Perineal and Skin Cleanser

Sometimes running a bath isn’t convenient. McKesson perineal and skin cleanser makes it easy to freshen up following a void or diaper change. The cleanser is made from a single-step rinse-free formula that helps clean, moisturize, and deodorize the skin. What’s more, because it’s pH balanced, there’s no risk of irritation or chafing.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Effective at reducing perineal dermatitis
  • The rinse-free wash emulsifies feces and cleanses urine
  • Contains moisturizing ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and vitamins A, C, and E
  • Non-sticky

Thera® Antifungal Body Powder

Thera antifungal body powder provides a safe and effective way to manage yeast infections like jock itch and ringworm. It contains miconazole nitrate which relieves scaling, cracking, redness, and discomfort while moisturizing the skin. Application is quick, hassle-free, and provides near-instant relief.

Key Benefits & Features:

  • Free of all allergens, including talc, rubber, and latex
  • Helps treat and prevent fungus and skin infections
  • Ideal for bariatric patients
  • Powder formula

What type of skincare product is right for my loved one?

If you care for someone who’s wheelchair bound or bedridden and you have specific questions regarding skincare, contact our friendly, compassionate Care Team. Reach out at any time by phone (855) 855-1666 or send an email to support@carewell.com.

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.

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