We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume that you are happy with it. Privacy Policy


Resource type: Article

Skin and nail changes

Dry or itchy skin

Patients sometimes experience dry, itchy or sensitive skin in the weeks and months after Intensive Care. Others have told us that using moisturiser can help.Ask your GP or pharmacist for their advice on which products to try.


You may notice a number of scars where you've had lines or tubes inserted, usually in the hands, wrists, arms, neck, groin, chest or near your collarbone. You may also have a scar from any operations you may have had. Although some people may feel self conscious or see their scars as an unpleasant reminder of a time that they would rather forget, they will usually fade and become less noticeable in the weeks and months after you get home. Others come to treasure these small reminders of their time of Intensive Care, sometimes seeing them as "battle scars" or as a reminder of their survival (sometimes against all odds) and of their will to live.

Patients who have had a tracheostomy (the tube that was inserted through the neck and into the windpipe) sometimes find the scar upsetting as it can be more obvious.If you find this scar very unsightly and distressing, ask your GP if they can refer you to a surgeon who may be able to improve its appearance.

Soft or brittle nails and ridges

Some patients notice that their nails are either very brittle (often breaking) or soft in the weeks and months after Intensive Care. You may also notice that they grow very slowly or that ridges may have appeared. These changes are usually temporary and will get better over time.