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SCI Pamphlets: Staying Healthy after a Spinal Cord Injury


 

Maintaining Healthy Skin - Part 1

[Download this pamphlet: "Maintaining Healthy Skin: Part 1" - (PDF, 518KB)]

What is healthy skin?

Your skin is much more than an outer surface for the world to see. It protects you from bacteria, dirt and other foreign objects and the ultraviolet rays of the sun, and contains the nerve endings that let you know if something is hot or cold, soft or hard, sharp or dull. Your skin also plays an important role in regulating your body's fluids and ­temperature.

diagram of layers of skin

Below the smooth, hairy outer skin, or epidermis, that we see every day is a thick, strong and elastic layer of tissue known as the dermis. The dermis is richly supplied with blood vessels, sweat and oil glands, and nerve endings.

Healthy skin is smooth, with no breaks in the surface. It is warm (not hot or red) and neither dry and flaky nor moist and wrinkled. Healthy skin is a mirror of a healthy body.

How to take care of your skin

NUTRITION:
To keep your skin healthy, eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of protein foods, fruits and vegetables (fresh if possible) and liquids. If you are having a skin problem, such as a pressure sore or a healing surgical incision, you should increase your intake of protein (lean meats, dairy foods and legumes), carbohydrates (breads, cereals), vitamins A, C and E, and zinc. Extra iron may be needed if you are anemic (see "Anemia" paragraph below).

CIRCULATION:
The skin is served by a large number of blood vessels, and adequate circulation is needed to maintain skin health. You can help ensure a healthy blood supply by considering the following suggestions:

Tips for maintaining good skin care:

University of Washington-operated SCI Clinics:

Harborview Medical Center
Rehabilitation Medicine Clinic
325 9th Ave., Seattle WA 98104
Spinal Cord Injury Clinic nurses: 206-744-5862

University of Washington Medical Center
Rehabilitation Medicine Clinic
1959 NE Pacific, Seattle WA 98195
Spinal Cord Injury Clinic nurses: 206-598-4295