Study: WaterWipes Reduces Facial Pressure from PPE

A study found WaterWipes, a baby wipe comprised of 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract, helped reduce facial pressure injuries (FPI) caused by prolonged wear of personal protective equipment (PPE).

A study found WaterWipes, a baby wipe comprised of 99.9% water and a drop of fruit extract, helped reduce facial pressure injuries (FPI) caused by prolonged wear of personal protective equipment (PPE).

When asked about the need for this study, Jill Sommerville, MSc, director of medical at WaterWipes, said, “During the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, facial pressure ulcers (FPUs) were a significant problem to Intensive Care Unit (ICU) health care staff throughout the world, resulting from wearing protective face masks for prolonged periods."

She continued, “There were instances where masks mechanically indented the skin, causing redness, blisters, and skin tears. When a break in the skin occurs, it becomes a portal for pathogens, placing staff at a significant risk of infection, including COVID-19 itself, and when infected, staff have had to leave the ICU for quarantining and treatment. Hospitals noticed that they were losing vital ICU staff from their rosters due to open facial wounds and this needed to be prevented as quickly and safely as possible.”

The study was conducted by 300 frontline health care professionals (HCPs) from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), who also commissioned the study.

Participants from the COVID-19 wards, ICU, and emergency department were given a product bundle consisting of WaterWipes baby wipes, medical tape, and moisturizer. The HCPs were instructed to cleanse their face with the wipes, then apply the moisturizer once the skin was clean and dry. Tape was then cut to size and placed directly on the bridge of the nose and cheekbones prior to wearing PPE.

The 5 steps to using the product bundle included:

  1. Skin protection, using cleansing and moisturization.
  2. Selection of a face mask appropriate to the level of care to be provided.
  3. Material use, application of tape and face mask.
  4. Skin and face mask inspection during the clinical shift as appropriate.
  5. Skin inspection, cleansing and hydration on removal of the PPE and tape.

From March to May 2020, results showed that prior to using WaterWipes, 29% (n=33) of participants developed a FPI from PPE. However, when the HCPs used the product bundle, they were 5 times less likely to develop a FPI while wearing PPE, with 8% (n=9) developing an FPI.

“This means that staff who followed the practical 5-step solution of cleaning and moisturizing routinely before and after use of their PPE, were almost five times less likely to develop an FPI,” Sommerville said. “This offers a level of comfort and protection to frontline ICU staff, improving their quality of life and enabling these important staff to continue, unhindered, with providing excellent patient care.”

She added, “Going forward, the study tells us that if skincare is prioritized, and a systematic preventative care bundle approach is adopted, there are clear benefits for the frontline workers and the workplaces involved. HCPs who follow the step process will have reduced chances of developing facial pressure injuries.”