Skin Care For Nurses - By: Sally Ryan

Nurses have a never ending fight against the bacteria and germs that are found in the walls and halls of health care facilities. Nurses must continually wash their hands and practice good hygiene. They are in a constant battle to fight skin problems that relate to the closed air system in their work environment and the necessity to continually wash their hands. One big problem that they happen across the most often is dry skin.

Dry skin can cause any one to feel itchy and sometimes can cause cracks in the skin that are very painful. Not to mention the appearance of natural beauty literally fades away while the damage constantly increases. It is not just nurses that have this problem, statistics have shown that one in every five people suffer from dry skin. Nurses just tend to show these problems more often due to the nature of their jobs.

One of the best things that can be done to mitigate dry skin problems is to follow a few basic prevention methods. First, if you do suffer from dry skin, then the bathing routine should be limited to about ten minutes and no more than once a day. Using some mild unscented bath oils in your bath can help alleviate itching. Warm (not hot) baths are easier on the skin than a harsh steamy shower. Do not use rough scrubbing surfaces on your skin. Instead, substitute a soft loufah for scrubbing to help in defoliating dead skin cells.

Other things that can be done to prevent dry skin can be simple, such as not allowing the harsh weather to be in contact with your skin. Use gloves when the weather is cold or windy outside. Raw winter weather can dry exposed skin quickly and cause painful cracks that are often difficult for nurses to heal. Using a humidifier in your house during the coldest months will raise the humidity in your air at home as well and lead to a healthier environment. Limiting caffeine and alcohol usage is recommended if you suffer from dry skin as these beverages cause dehydration, accentuating dry skin. For the same reason, heavily scented deodorants and perfume usage should be limited.

Using moisturizers is essential to remedying dry skin. There are multitudes of moisturizing products on the market today with a variety of price ranges. They come in creams, ointments, and lotions. Finding the product that is right for your skin often is a lengthy trial and error procedure. Some products show immediate negative signs such as skin irritations, but it may take weeks to determine whether a moisturizer is having a beneficial effect on your skin. There is conflicting evidence as to whether the higher priced moisturizing systems are better than their less expensive cousins found on the shelves of Wal-Mart.

The form of moisturizer has a bearing on its effectiveness. Ointments are typically thick and greasy and should be used at night when they will work best to trap your natural moisture in the skin. Creams are not as greasy as ointments but it is necessary to apply them more often to get the same benefits. Lotions are not as effective as the ointments or creams, but they do absorb much faster and they tend to be easier to use during the day. Using the type of moisturizer appropriately has a bearing on its effectiveness. Daily prevention aids for dry skin are not always enough. If you have already shown severe signs of dry skin you should consult a family doctor or dermatologist to correct skin damage.
Nursing shoes can be a cause of foot related skin problems. The use of pantyhose causes feet to sweat inside nursing shoes after long hours of walking the halls of a hospital or clinic. Resulting skin problems such as athlete’s foot can be difficult to control. Contrarily, the use of socks in nursing shoes controls perspiration but often dries the feet, especially in cold weather, causing cracked skin on heels and soles. It is especially important to use a good foot cream for daily use and a heavier ointment for overnight treatment. Foot massages at the end of the day help restore circulation to the feet creating not only healthier skin, but less painful tootsies.
For nurses, getting plenty of rest between shifts is essential to optimum performance on the job, but it is also an integral part of healthy skin care. Before donning your uniform scrubs and nursing shoes and heading out the door, practice good skin care by getting plenty of rest, use your favorite moisturizer and don’t forget to pack a lotion or cream to refresh your skin during the day.

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