Spotlight on...microclimate

29/10/2015 14:43:37

We discuss what the impacts of microclimate are on the development of preventable pressure ulcers…

What is microclimate?
Microclimate in relation to pressure ulcers usually refers to skin surface or tissue temperature, as well as the humidity or skin surface moisture at the support surface interface .
How to manage microclimate
The body of literature linking pressure ulcers and microclimate is relatively small, with little characterisation of interactions between skin and fabric (e.g. support surface covers).
However, increased skin moisture has long been recognised as an important risk factor for pressure ulcer development, so it is clear that maintaining a good skin microclimate is a contributing factor in the fight against preventable pressure ulcers.
Impact for support surfaces
There are a number of different types of support surface available that specifically aim to help manage the skin’s microclimate:
Active – such as Low air loss systems. These allow air to escape through small holes; replacement air is then continually pumped around the system to ensure that there is always a dryer environment under the patient so that an appropriate moisture vapour transfer rate (MVT) can be achieved at the patient interface. This type of support surface is used when microclimate management is essential in keeping the patient’s skin cool and dry.
Reactive – such as non-powered hybrids. These can have different cores, such as gel, which work to improve the skin’s microclimate. 
Microclimate and mattress covers
Choosing a mattress cover with high levels of breathability, such as the Dartex® MicroClimate or Ultimate Air fabric allows a high moisture vapour transfer rate (MVT) across the skin’s surface, keeping contact areas cooler and dry. 
Do you have any microclimate musings? Contact our experts for more information or have a read of our clinical paper discussing microclimate in mattress covers

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