Skin Matters: Nursing Assessment of the Integumentary System

Jane Ellen Barr RN, MSN, CWOCN, ANP

    Assessment provides the practitioner the opportunity to collect information about the patient to lay a foundation for the remainder of the health or condition-related process. Information collection may be comprehensive and/or focused. Comprehensive assessment is thorough and includes a detailed health history and physical examination. Focused assessment is problem-oriented.

    The table on the following pages identifies the procedure and normal and abnormal results of a basic physical assessment of the skin. The physical assessment can be performed in three ways: using a head to toe approach; observing all skin on the anterior, posterior, and lateral surfaces of the body; or inspecting the skin by regions. The results of the assessment will help the clinician determine management and/or treatment for restoring or maintaining skin health.

    A subsequent article in this series will address variations in assessment based on skin color.

    This article was not subject to the Ostomy Wound Management peer-review process.

Back to top