Alterations in skin integrity and would healing
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Alterations in Skin Integrity and Would Healing. Lisa M. Dunn MSN/Ed, RN, CCRN, CNE. Exemplar: Xerosis (Dryness). A common problem among older patients Fine flaking of the stratum corneum Generalized pruritus

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Alterations in skin integrity and would healing

Alterations in Skin Integrity and Would Healing

Lisa M. Dunn MSN/Ed, RN, CCRN, CNE

Exemplar xerosis dryness

Exemplar: Xerosis (Dryness)

  • A common problem among older patients

  • Fine flaking of the stratum corneum

  • Generalized pruritus

  • Scratching may result in secondary skin lesions, excoriations, lichenification, and infection

Collaborative management

Collaborative Management

  • Nursing interventions aim to rehydrate the skin and relieve itching.

  • Bathing with moisturizing soaps, oils, and lotions may reduce dryness.

  • Water softens the outer skin layers; creams and lotions seal in the moisture provided by water.

Exemplar pruritus itching

Exemplar: Pruritus (Itching)

  • Pruritus is caused by stimulation of itch-specific nerve fibers at the dermal-epidermal junction.

  • Itching is a subjective symptom similar to pain.

  • “Itch-scratch-itch” cycle.

  • Cool sleeping environment is helpful.

  • Fingernails should be trimmed short.

  • Antihistamines.

  • Topical steroids.

Alterations in skin integrity and would healing

  • The nurse is applying a topical corticosteroid to a client with eczema. The nurse would be concerned about the potential for increased systemic absorption of the medication if the medication were being applied to which of the following body areas?

  • Back

  • Axilla

  • Soles of the feet

  • Palms of the hands

Exemplar sunburn

Exemplar: Sunburn

  • First-degree, superficial burn

  • Cool baths

  • Soothing lotions

  • Antibiotic ointments for blistering and infected skin

  • Topical corticosteroids for pain

Exemplar urticaria hives

Exemplar: Urticaria (Hives)

  • Urticaria—presence of white or red edematous papules or plaques of varying sizes

  • Removal of triggering substances

  • Antihistamines helpful

  • Avoidance of overexertion, alcohol consumption, and warm environments, which can worsen symptoms

Exemplar trauma

Exemplar: Trauma

  • Phases of wound healing:

    • Inflammatory phase

    • Fibroblastic or connected tissue repair phase

    • Maturation or remodeling phase



  • The nurse manager is observing a new nursing graduate caring for a burn patient in protective isolation. The nurse manager intervenes if the new nursing graduate planned to implement which incorrect component of protective isolation technique?

    A. Using sterile sheets and linens

    B. Performing strict hand-washing technique

    C. Wearing gloves and a gown only when giving direct care to the patient.

    D. Wearing protective garb, including a mask, gloves, cap, shoe covers, gowns, and plastic apron

Process of wound healing

Process of Wound Healing

Process of wound healing cont d

Process of Wound Healing (Cont’d)

  • First intention resulting in a thin scar

  • Second intention (granulation) and contraction—a deeper tissue injury or wound

  • Third intention (delayed closure)—high risk for infection with a resultant scar

Exemplar partial thickness wounds

Exemplar: Partial-Thickness Wounds

  • Involve damage to the epidermis and upper layers of the dermis

  • Heal by re-epithelialization within 5 to 7 days

  • Skin injury immediately followed by local inflammation

Re epithelialization


Exemplar full thickness wounds

Exemplar: Full-Thickness Wounds

  • Damage extends into the lower layers of the dermis and underlying subcutaneous tissue.

  • Removal of the damaged tissue results in a defect that must be filled with granulation tissue to heal.

  • Contraction develops in healing process.

  • Wound may tunnel

Exemplar pressure ulcer

Exemplar: Pressure Ulcer

  • Tissue damage caused when the skin and underlying soft tissue are compressed between a bony prominence and an external surface for an extended period.

  • Mechanical forces that create ulcers:

    • Pressure

    • Friction

    • Shear

Shearing force

Shearing Force

Identification of high risk patients

Identification of High-Risk Patients

  • Mental status changes

  • Independent mobility

  • Nutritional status

  • Incontinence

Pressure relieving techniques

Pressure-Relieving Techniques

  • Adequate pressure relief key to prevention of pressure ulcers

  • Capillary closing pressure

  • Pressure-relief products and devices

  • Positioning



  • The evening nurse reviews the nursing documentation in the patient’s chart and notes that the day nurse has documented that the patient has a stage II pressure ulcer in the sacral area. Which of the following would the nurses expect to note on assessment of the patient’s sacral area?

  • A. Intact skin

  • B. Full-thickness skin loss

  • C. Exposed bone, tendon, or muscle

  • D. Partial- thickness skin loss of the dermis

Wound assessment

Wound Assessment

  • Pressure ulcers and their features are classified and assessed in four stages:

    • Stage I

    • Stage II

    • Stage III

    • Stage IV

Four stages of pressure ulceration

Four Stages of Pressure Ulceration

Wound assessment1

Wound Assessment

  • Location

  • Size

  • Color

  • Extent of tissue involvement

  • Cell types in the wound base and margins

  • Exudate

  • Condition of surrounding tissue

  • Presence of foreign bodies

Exemplar wound contamination wound infection

Exemplar: Wound Contamination/Wound Infection

  • A wound that is exposed is always contaminated but not always infected. Contamination is the presence of organisms without any manifestations of infection.

  • Wound infection is contamination with pathogenic organisms to the degree that growth and spread cannot be controlled by the body’s immune defenses.

Nonsurgical management

Nonsurgical Management

  • Dressings:

    • Mechanical débridement

    • Natural chemical débridement

    • Hydrophobic material

    • Hydrophilic material

Nonsurgical therapy

Nonsurgical Therapy

  • Physical therapy

  • Drug therapy

  • Nutrition therapy

  • New technologies:

    • Electrical stimulation

    • Vacuum-assisted wound closure (VAC)

    • Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO)

    • Topical growth factors

    • Skin substitutes

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Surgical management

Surgical Management

  • Surgical débridement

  • Skin grafting

Community based care

Community-Based Care

  • Home care management

  • Health teaching

  • Health care resources

Exemplar bacterial infections

Exemplar: Bacterial Infections

  • Folliculitis—superficial infection involving only the upper portion of the follicle

  • Furuncle (boil)—much deeper infection in the follicle

  • Cellulitis—generalized infection with either Staphylococcus or Streptococcus involving deeper connective tissue







  • The nurse is reviewing the health record of the patients scheduled to be seen at the health clinic. The nurse determines that which of the following individuals is at the greatest risk for development of an integumentary disorder?

  • A. An adolescent

  • B. An older female

  • C. A physical education teacher

  • D. An outdoor construction worker

Exemplar herpes simplex virus

Exemplar: Herpes Simplex Virus

  • Type 1 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1)—classic recurring cold sore

  • Type 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV-2)—genital herpes

  • Herpes zoster (shingles)

Herpes simplex virus cont d

Herpes Simplex Virus(Cont’d)

  • Herpetic whitlow—a form of herpes simplex infection occurring on the fingertips of medical personnel who have come in contact with viral secretions

Exemplar herpes zoster shingles

Exemplar: Herpes Zoster/Shingles

  • Caused by reactivation of the dormant varicella-zoster virus in patients who have previously had chickenpox.

  • Multiple lesions occur in a segmental distribution on the skin area innervated by the infected nerve.

  • Eruption lasts several weeks.

  • Postherpetic neuralgia occurs after lesions have resolved.

Exemplar fungal infections dermatophyte

Exemplar: Fungal Infections (Dermatophyte)

  • Tinea pedis

  • Tinea manus

  • Tinea cruris

  • Tinea capitis

  • Tinea corporis

  • Candida albicans



  • History

  • Laboratory assessment:

    • Tzanck smear

    • Swab culture

    • Potassium hydroxide (KOH) test



  • Skin care with proper cleansing

  • Isolation Precautions

  • Drug therapy

Skin care

Skin Care

  • Bathe daily with an antibacterial soap.

  • Remove any pustules or crusts gently.

  • Apply warm compress twice a day to furuncles or areas of cellulitis.

  • Apply Burow's solution to viral lesions.

  • Avoid excessive moisture.

  • Ensure optimal patient positioning.

Drug therapy for skin disorders

Drug Therapy for Skin Disorders

  • Antibacterial drugs

  • Antifungal drugs

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs

Alterations in skin integrity and would healing

  • A topical corticosteriod is prescribed for the client with dermatitis. The nurse provides instructions to the client regarding the use of the medication. Which of the following, if stated by the client, would indicate a need for further instruction?

  • “I need to apply the medication in a thin film.”

  • “I should gently rub the medication into the skin.”

  • “The medication will help relieve the inflammation and itching.”

  • “I should place a bandage over the site after applying the medication.”

Exemplar cutaneous anthrax

Exemplar: Cutaneous Anthrax

  • Infection caused by the spores of the bacterium Bacillus anthracis

  • Diagnosis based on appearance of the lesions and culture or anthrax antibodies in the blood

  • Oral antibiotics for 60 days—ciprofloxacin or doxycycline

Cutaneous anthrax

Cutaneous Anthrax

Exemplar pediculosis

Exemplar: Pediculosis

  • Pediculosis—infestation by human lice:

    • Head lice—pediculosis capitis

    • Body lice—pediculosis corporis

    • Pubic or crab lice—pediculosis pubis

  • Pruritus most common symptom

  • Drugs

  • Laundering of clothing and bed linen



  • The home health nurse visits a client suspected of having scabies. Which of the following precautions will the nurse institute during the assessment of the client?

  • A. Wear gloves only

  • B. Wear a mask and gloves

  • C. Wear a gown and gloves

  • D. Avoid touching the client’s home furnishings



  • Scabies is a contagious skin disease caused by mite infestations.

  • Scabies is transmitted by close and prolonged contact or infested bedding.

  • Examine skin between fingers and on the palms.

  • Infestation is confirmed by an examination of a scraping of a lesion under a microscope.

Common inflammations

Common Inflammations

  • Contact dermatitis, atopic dermatitis

  • Interventions include:

    • Steroids

    • Avoidance of oil-based products

    • Antihistamines

    • Compresses and baths



  • Lifelong disorder with exacerbations and remissions

  • Scaling disorder with underlying dermal inflammation; possibly an autoimmune reaction

  • Psoriasis vulgaris most often seen

  • Exfoliative psoriasis—an explosively eruptive and inflammatory form of the disease

Exemplar psoriasis vulgaris

Exemplar: Psoriasis Vulgaris

Treatment of psoriasis

Treatment of Psoriasis

  • Corticosteroids

  • Tar preparations

  • Other topical therapies

  • Ultraviolet light therapy

  • Systemic therapy:

    • Biologic agents

    • Cytotoxic agents

    • Immunosuppressants

  • Emotional support

Exemplar benign tumors

Exemplar: Benign Tumors

  • Cysts

  • Seborrheic keratoses

  • Keloids

  • Nevi (moles)

Exemplar skin cancer

Exemplar: Skin Cancer

  • Actinic keratoses

  • Squamous cell carcinomas

  • Basal cell carcinomas

  • Melanomas—highly metastatic; survival depends on early diagnosis and treatment

Skin cancer cont d

Skin Cancer (Cont’d)

Surgical management of skin cancer

Surgical Management of Skin Cancer

Surgical management:

  • Cryosurgery

  • Curettage and electrodesiccation

  • Excision

  • Mohs’ surgery

  • Wide excision

Nonsurgical management of skin cancer

Nonsurgical Management of Skin Cancer

  • Drug therapy

  • Radiation therapy

Exemplar plastic surgery

Exemplar: Plastic Surgery

  • Rhytidectomy (face-lift)

  • Rhinoplasty (reconstruction of the nose)

Exemplar acne

Exemplar: Acne

  • Red pustular eruption affecting the sebaceous glands of the skin

  • Progressive disorder that manifests as noninflammatory comedones, inflammatory papules, pustules, and cysts

  • Topical agents

  • Systemic antibiotics and possibly isotretinoin (Accutane) helpful

Exemplar other skin disorders

Exemplar; Other Skin Disorders

  • Lichen planus with itchy papules

  • Pemphigus vulgaris with chronic blistering

  • Toxic epidermal necrolysis—a rare, acute drug reaction

  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome

  • Leprosy

Alterations in skin integrity and would healing

Steven Johnson Syndrome

Alterations in skin integrity and would healing


Ignatavicius, D., & Workman, M.L. (Ed.). (2010). Medical-Surgical Nursing

Critical Thinking For Collaborative Care. (6th Ed.) St. Louis: Elsevier

Saunders. We Bring Doctors’ Knowledge To You. (2010) Skin Health

Center. Retrieved April 8, 2010, from:

Potter, P. & Perry, A. (2009). Fundamentals of Nursing (7th ed). St. Louis,

Missouri: Mosby.

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