Family Caregiving Ideas | Skin Care Tips from Give a Care
Let’s get dermatological y’all! Did you know that technically your skin is an organ? Just like your other organs, it thrives on healthy hydration. Skin care is one of those caregiving things that can so easily go under the radar when you’re busy making appointments, filling prescriptions, changing tubes, diapers or caths, the list goes on. In our experience with Mom, spending the most amount of time in her bed also means being on her back consistently, so her skin back there is often out of sight and doesn’t get a ton of air. We’ve found a handful of best practices for protecting and nourishing your loved one’s healthy skin:
Keep an eye on it: On those days in between baths, make sure you have eyes on those areas that often go unseen like the scalp, behind the ears, the back, bottom, feet and under the legs. If you notice skin irritation, flaking, redness, tightness, or even a smell, take steps to check if it might be the beginning of a pressure ulcer, a rash, cradle cap or something else. Clean with mild soap and warm water, moisturize or treat as needed, and if concerned, take a picture and show it to your loved one’s doctor or ask a home health aid to have a look.
Exfoliate: Depending on the tone and tightness of your loved one’s body and posture, microscopic dirt and dead skin cells can quickly build up in closed and tight spaces on the body. For example, with Mom, one of her hands has closed up almost into a fist over the years because of her MS and the inevitable atrophy that goes along with it. We have to remember to scrub that hand and really get it nice and clean when she bathes, and on the in between days we will simply rub hand sanitizer on it. To prevent pockets of skin from growing together, we roll up a washcloth and slip it into her hand so she is essentially “holding” it – this helps get air to a mostly closed area of skin too.
Hydrate and Moisturize: Especially right after baths when the skin is all soaked with water and the pores are opened up, hydrating the skin with a mild lotion or moisturizing cream is key. We try and stick with unscented lotions made with more natural ingredients, but sometimes, a little fragrance can really pep Mom up. For her face we rub a little almond oil or face lotion, and if she ever gets a super, dry flaky scalp (like one time she had the equivalent of cradle cap), we rub coconut oil all into her hair and scalp and let it sit before washing out.
Stay cool: Bacteria grows in warm, moist places so keeping skin cool is a good idea for preventing yeasty or bacterial rashes and skin infections. Opt for t-shirts or even no shirts for a while if your loved one is spending lengthy amounts of time indoors in a bed or chair; and turn on a fan to move air around and prevent them from sweating.
Ask a doctor: We did have a bad rash make it’s way all the way up Mom’s back one time, and of course my initial response was total freakout and webMD frenzy. Was it bedbugs? Was it an allergic reaction? We got to the doctor quick, and she prescribed her an anti-fungal cream called Nystatin to help treat what was simply a yeast-based dermatitis from sweat and spending most of her time on her back in bed. The Nystatin helped clear it up in a couple weeks and got us back to a starting point for skin care so we could work on preventing that from happening again.
Our favorite super moisturizer we actually first used in the hospital and then have ordered ever since is Sween 24 Once a Day Moisturizing Body Cream – it’s like magic!
Thanks for checking out these skin care tips from Give a Care! What tips would you add to the list?