New Treatment Can Reduce Risk of PPE Facial Injuries in Frontline Healthcare Workers

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Image courtesy of SARAH SEDDON

A study has found that a new ‘care bundle’ can reduce the incidence of Facial Pressure Injuries (FPIs) in frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers caused by the prolonged wearing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The study, led by researchers from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences Skin Wounds and Trauma (SWaT) Research Centre, is published in the current edition of Opens in new windowJournal of Wound Care.

The research took place over a two-month period amongst healthcare workers in a large acute hospital in Ireland. Approximately 300 frontline staff were provided with a care bundle, designed in line with international best practice and comprising of face cleansing material (WaterWipesTM baby wipes), moisturising balm (Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin BalmTM) and protective tape (Mepitac Tape).

Results showed that prior to using the care bundle 29% of respondents developed FPIs, whereas after using it only 8% of respondents developed FPIs. The analysis revealed that users of the care bundle were almost five times less likely to develop a FPI. In a secondary finding, staff reported that the bundle was easy to use, safe and effective.

Professor Zena Moore, SWaT Researcher Centre Director and Head of the RCSI School of Nursing and Midwifery, was the lead researcher on the study. Prof. Moore said:

\”We are acutely aware of the facial injuries, such as pressure ulcers, bruises and skin tears that healthcare workers are experiencing due to the prolonged wearing of protective equipment during the pandemic and especially the wearing of medical face masks. These injuries can be painful for staff and injuries, in some cases, can put them at increased risk of infection. This study is the first of its kind carried out at the height of the pandemic in an effort to help mitigate the occurrence of Facial Pressure Injuries. The results tell us that when skincare is prioritised, and a systematic, preventative care bundle approach is adopted, there are clear benefits for the frontline workers and the workplaces involved.\”

The SWaT study was carried out in collaboration with two skincare companies: WaterWipes UC in Ireland contributing the cleansing wipes and Beiersdorf in Germany providing the moisturiser. Fleming Medical in Ireland distributed the tape.

Part of RCSI\’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, the SWaT Research Centre is leading cutting-edge research in the field of wound healing and tissue repair, with a specific emphasis on pressure ulcer prevention and management.

Natalie McEvoy showing the facial injuries she experienced after wearing PPE for a prolonged period. Image courtesy of RCSI



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