Q: We have a resident who constantly picks her skin. We have tried medication changes, as did the family before she came to our facility. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Sometimes residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia have picking problems, picking at their skin or clothing they may be wearing. 

There are thick elastic arm and leg covers you can purchase to keep those areas covered. Keeping the skin from drying out also will help. 

Document on the care plan whatever you have done — no matter whether it’s worked or not — for a particular resident. That will help new staff understand how to dress the resident, or apply moisturizer to the areas they tend to pick.

If you have someone who does nails in the facility, or someone takes the resident to a nail salon, you can not only have the nails trimmed and filed but there is a powdered application called an SNS nail treatment. Once applied, the nail is thicker and dull with more rounded edges, making picking less possible. The treatment usually stays on and can be reapplied about every three weeks. 

We had SNS applied with a family’s or power of attorney’s permission, and it made a huge difference with skin picking. One family transported their resident to the nail salon, and one of the family members for another resident was a nail technician and would come visit and fix her grandmother’s nails with an SNS treatment.

We care planned everything and their skin looked great within a few months after applying the nail treatment.

Start with baby steps and get the family and/or POA involved if the resident can’t make decisions on their own. Sometimes, traditional arm covers or moisturizer will be your answer.

As we know, every resident responds differently to different approaches.

Please send your resident care-related questions to Sherrie Dornberger at [email protected].