With mobility issues often comes the challenge of bed sores (pressure ulcers) These are areas of skin that become painful and irritated, caused by pressure applied to a certain area for long periods of time. As soon as you spot any symptoms of bed sores they need to be treated and cared for immediately, the more developed they become the more difficult they become to treat.
As long as the bed sores are still in the initial stages, they can be treated and cared for without any need for surgery or more drastic measures. Suspected bed sores should always be examined by your healthcare provider. To help you decide on an appropriate treatment routine, the following is a list of the best care tips for bed sores.
**Remember to discuss these options with your healthcare provider before implementing a treatment plan.
- Proper Wound Care
Caring for the wounds themselves with proper dressings and cleaning is essential to avoid infection. The way in which the pressure ulcers should be cared for will depend on how advanced the sores are, for example, if the skin is unbroken then pressure should be taken off the area and it should be kept clean and moisturized. More advanced ulcers should be kept clean and dry, and specific instructions for severe sores will normally be given by your healthcare provider.
If you remain in a certain position for long periods of time, whether in a chair, wheelchair, or bed, it is important to reposition yourself frequently to encourage blood flow and make sure the pressure is not concentrated in one place. Those in wheelchairs should try and shift their weight at least every 15 minutes, and a cushion is also a good idea. If in a bed, shift between your back and left and right side roughly every 1-2 hours. If repositioning isn’t possible every 15 mins, consider using an alternating pressure mattress which cycles air through pockets to help distribute the patient’s weight evenly.
- Good Nutrition
Another vital way to help bed sores heal and prevent new ones from forming is to carefully monitor your diet. Vitamins A, C, and E are all extremely important for the healing process and so foods rich in them should feature heavily in your diet, including oranges, broccoli, nuts, and olives. You might also consider supplements such as Vitamin C and Zinc. Lastly, never underestimate the importance of being a healthy weight. Losing body weight means less protection between skin and bone, and gaining body weight means greater pressure on the body, so a healthy balance is key.
- Take Extra Care
You also need to be away that bed sores are very fragile and very little force can make them worse. Repositioning or other small movements can worsen pressure ulcers, so powdering your sheets can reduce friction. Keeping your skin moisturized is also important, which you can do by drinking plenty of fluids, and a barrier cream can be helpful if your healthcare provider approves its use.
- Fresh Sheets and Clothing
Using powder on your sheets helps to reduce friction. They should also be changed frequently, as should clothing. Having fresh clothes won’t only boost your mood, but is also important to prevent the spread of bacteria. This can be done when your bed sores are being inspected to avoid unnecessary friction and disturbance of the wounds. All sheets and clothes need to be made of a breathable fabric to encourage airflow and aid the healing process.
- Incontinence Management
Lastly, incontinence can mean you are at greater risk of infection, particularly if the skin is broken. Incontinence pads and diapers are important to help stop bacteria coming into contact with the skin. There are also protective lotions that can be used to prevent this.
Creating Your Treatment Plan:
Once you have discussed these measures with your healthcare provider it is vital to come up with a treatment plan and then stick to it. Pressure ulcers need to be cared for delicately and consistently, and getting into a routine will help to speed up the recovery process and prevent any new ulcers from forming.