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Macerated Skin Happens Often And Heals Quickly - What Is It?

Agnus Smith | Published: June 14, 2018

bandaid on finger

You've definitely seen it, and chances are, you've even experienced it. It happens when you take too long in the bath or shower, wear a band-aid too long, or even when you're washing the dishes, and it's called maceration. Macerated skin is extremely common, and is usually nothing to worry about, but the real question is what is it, and why does it happen?

What Does It Mean To Have Macerated Skin?

Macerated skin can be understood as skin that has been exposed to moisture for a long period of time. Macerated skin is often lighter in color, wrinkled, soft and wet feeling.

How Does Skin Maceration Happen?

Skin maceration can occur when water and or other moisture is absorbed by the skin for a long period of time and does not have the opportunity to dry. The skin becomes wrinkled and soft due to the maximum absorption of the moisture.

Common Causes

Some common causes of macerated skin include:

  • Exposure to water on the skin
  • Exposure to sweat on the skin
  • Exposure to urine or feces on the skin
  • Lack of exposure to dry air

Other common causes include excessive sweating, swimming, and urinary incontinence are all common causes of this condition.

Is Maceration Dangerous?

Maceration of the skin is harmless in most cases, however, there are severe cases that can turn into periwound skin and infections that can cause other complications if not treated properly. This condition tends to weaken the skin surrounding the wound causing healing time to be prolonged.

How long does it take macerated skin to heal

Mild macerated skin can go away on its own rather quickly once the exposure to moisture is removed so the skin is able to dry. However, in cases where the skin is exposed for a prolonged amount of time, such as people with incontinence or hyperhidrosis, sores and wounds can occur making it a longer process to tend to and heal.

What are the possible effects of maceration?

Skin maceration can have a minor to a more severe impact on the skin depending on the state of your condition. Mild skin maceration can cause soft, wet skin that appears wrinkled while more severe skin maceration can cause periwound skin and or infections in the skin. If infection occurs, it can turn into another condition all together so it is important to speak to a medical professional if you have concerns about your condition.

How to treat maceration

Macerated skin can be treated in numerous ways depending on the state of your condition. Treatment for mild maceration includes exposing the affected area to air to dry out the skin. Treatments for more serious maceration with periwound skin include occlusive dressings and Hydrofiber dressings. Occlusive dressings can be understood as medical dressings that are extremely absorbent and wax coated so moisture can be removed from the affected area. Hydrofiber dressings can be understood as gauze pads that often include iodine to absorb moisture.

How to prevent skin maceration

Prevention for maceration includes limiting your exposure to moisture on the skin and ensuring that you give your skin the proper drying time it needs to recoup. Further, change dressings, adult undergarments, diapers and other items that retain moisture on the skin often so that the skin has dry time. Further, there are preventative topical medications that can be applied to the areas of the skin that are at risk for maceration.

Macerated skin is a common condition that can often be reversed on its own with exposure to dry air. However, there are more severe cases of maceration that can cause periwound skin and other infections in the skin if not properly treated. Treatments for more severe cases of macerated skin include dressings for the periwound skin. Prevention for maceration includes dry time for the skin as well as topical medications that aid in keeping the skin dry. Be sure to speak to a medical professional if you have concerns about your skin.