Skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs) occur frequently in the elderly as skin integrity becomes more compromised with advancing age. SSTIs are the third most common infection in nursing home residents nationally, with a prevalence rate that varies between 1% and 9%. Cellulitis and decubitus ulcer infection are two of the most common types of SSTI in this national population. During a 12-month period, July 2009 through June 2010, Pennsylvania nursing homes reported a total of 5,881 SSTI events, or a rate of 0.26 per 1,000 resident days. Consistent with national data findings, these reports reflect that cellulitis and decubitus ulcer infections were the most predominant among the specific etiologies. This article focuses on evidence-based practices for maintaining overall skin integrity as well as strategies for pressure ulcer prevention. Barriers that impede skin integrity maintenance are also addressed.
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