Unit 334 Undertake tissue viability risk assessments
1.1 Skin functions
The skin provides a tough covering for the body and is naturally acidic. This acidity helps to protect against infection.
The skin is sensitive. Some areas such as the lips and finger tips have greater numbers of nerve endings and are especially sensitive. The skin registers and distinguishes between touch, pain, itch, hot and cold sensation.
The skin helps to maintain body temperature. Blood vessels in the skin will dilate or constrict in response to temperature changes. When the body is hot the skin pores will open and release sweat. When the body is cold the skin constricts, the tiny muscles at the base of the body hairs are contracted and the hairs become erect forming ‘goose bumps’ on the skin.
Waste products can be excreted through the skin in the sweat.
When the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light it manufactures vitamin D which is essential for bone strength. We should try to get plenty of sunlight to help make vitamin D whilst ensuring we don't get burnt.
The skin stores water and fat.
The skin is able to absorb moisture. Cream is absorbed into the skin and some medications are designed to be absorbed gradually into the circulation via the skin e.g. pain patches.
1.2 When you start to develop pressure sores you will start to notice redness on pressure points. If you do not move around when in bed or a chair you will become at risk of developing pressure sores, this is particularly important for the elderly and disabled people as they tend to be less mobile. Below are pictures to indicate where pressure points are when you are laid down in different positions.
If you do not reposition less mobile individuals then pressure sores can develop into worse sores.
Stage 1. Discolouration of intact skin, light finger pressure will not alter the discolouration.
Stage 2. Partial thickness skin loss or damage involving the epidermis and/or dermis