Why do you need to look after your skin after Spinal Cord Injury? Your skin is a very important part of your body. Before your injury it sent messages to your brain about touch, pain, pressure and temperature. • After a spinal cord injury your skin might not work as well because: • The blood supply is less efficient and damaged tissue takes longer to heal. • You may have little or no sensation and therefore not feel pain or pressure. • Your ability to control your body temperature is less efficient and your sweating patterns may have changed. If you cannot feel parts of your body you need to protect your skin and know what to do if problems occur.
How can you look after your skin? • Check your skin for scratches and red marks every morning and evening. Use a mirror or ask your carer to help you. • Wash your body every day and dry it very carefully. • Put cream on your skin to stop it getting too dry. • Make sure your clothes are not too tight. Wear warm clothing in cold weather. • Make sure your shoes are not too tight. • Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables and drink plenty of water
Wash your body every day and dry it very carefully. Put cream on your skin to stop it getting too dry.
This man is in danger of burning. In hot weather protect your skin with high factor skin cream (30+). • Do not spend a lot of time in direct sun • Wear a hat, sit in the shade if possible and drink lots of water.
In cold weather wear warm clothing, gloves and socks to protect your skin.
What more can you do to look after your skin? • Check your cushion is correctly placed before you get into your wheelchair • Check that you are not sitting on your catheter • Check that you are not sitting on creases in your clothes • Make sure you do your pressure relief for at least 2 minutes every hour or as often as you have been told by your Physiotherapist • Eat a healthy diet including fruit and vegetables • Don’t smoke
Make sure you do your pressure relief for at least 2 minutes every hour Eat a healthy diet including fruit and vegetables and drink lots of water
When you are in bed • Make sure you are sleeping on a mattress that is designed to protect your skin. Your nurse can advise you which mattress you need. • Put a pillow between your knees and under your ankles so that they don’t rub. • Don’t spend too long in one position. Remember to turn over every few hours. Pressure sores can occur if you sit or lie on your catheter
If you don’t look after your skin you may get a pressure sore pressure sore on a bottom pressure sore on an ankle pressure sore on a hand
Skin can become damaged when it is compressed or rubbed against a surface. • You may get pressure sores if you slip out of position in your wheelchair. • You may get pressure sores or damage your skin if it is stretched when you get in and out of your wheelchair. • You may get pressure sores if you don’t turn in bed. • You may get pressure sores if drag your skin when you are turning in bed. • You may get pressure sores on your feet if you have a lot of spasm.
More things to be aware of: • do not use hot water bottles • protect your skin when you are cooking food • be careful when carrying hot drinks. Photograph of a burn which was caused by a hot water bottle
If you put on too much weight it will be more difficult to push your wheelchair and to lift yourself. You could damage your skin getting in and out of your chair.
If you get too thin you are more likely to get pressure sores because you will have less padding on your bottom.
The person above has red marks on their bottom. If you find a mark like this stay in bed and contact the district nurse. Keep the pressure off the area until it disappears If you ignore it, it may lead to a pressure sore.
You can avoid problems if you look after your skin. Love the skin you’re in! Lovethe skin you’re in!
Who can help you? Your carer Your nurse Your GP Spinal Outpatient Team Telephone number: 01296 315828 or 01296 315829