Spina Bifida and Skin Care and Protection

Spina bifida is a condition where the spine and spinal cord do not form properly at birth. It is a type of neural tube defect (NTD). People with spina bifida may have challenges with sensitive skin and pressure areas on the skin. They also may experience latex sensitivity or allergies.

Skin Care With Spina Bifida

Those living with spina bifida may have limited feeling in some areas of their body. This occurs below the level of the spinal cord involvement. According to the CDC, healthcare professionals reported that skin wounds are a common cause of hospitalization of people with spina bifida.

What Occurs

Prolonged pressure on soft tissue, skin and muscle can cause pressure injuries. It is important to protect the skin because pressure sores can lead to infection.

For protection, check the skin daily for redness. Also, you should assess pressure points, such as the sacrum, coccyx, buttocks, heels, hips and beneath medical devices. Most importantly, by checking all areas daily, you can identify skin problems before they become pressure sores.

Protecting the Skin

There are several tips you can follow to protect the skin and help avoid pressure injuries:

  • Avoid hot water and use careful application of heat or cold especially to affected parts of the body. Normal household items such as hot dishes, hot car seats and metal seatbelt clasps can cause burns in persons with spina bifida as they lack sensation to those areas.
  • Make sure you are wearing properly fitting shoes at all times.
  • Use sunscreen, and don’t stay out in the sun too long.
  • Do not sit or lie in one position for too long.
  • Keep skin clean and dry especially in areas of pressure or rubbing such as the groin.

Latex (Natural Rubber) Allergy

Many people with spina bifida are allergic to products that contain latex​. This means they should not use items made of natural rubber. For babies, this would include rubber nipples and pacifiers. A person with this type of allergy can wear a medic alert bracelet to alert other people of the allergy.

To learn more about spina bifida and pressure sores, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/spinabifida/facts.html#:~:text=Spina%20bifida%20is%20a%20condition,not%20close%20all%20the%20way or https://www.chcsolutions.com/continuum_connect/wound-care/avoiding-pressure-injuries-sores/.

*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.