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Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment

What are Bedsores (Pressure Ulcers)?

Also known as pressure ulcers, bedsores are injuries that affect the skin as well as the layers underneath. Bedsores occur in patients who are bedridden for a long period or suffer a prolonged pressure over an area of skin for a stretch of time. When the body doesn’t get any movement, it can hinder adequate blood flow to the skin, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. For the most part, bedsores form on areas of the skin that contain little muscle and fat, such as shoulder blades, ankles, elbows, hips, heels, and the tailbone, but they can also occur in numerous other areas as well.

The bedsores begin as a reddish or dark discoloration of the affected skin. This phase is called Stage I of bedsore. As the bedsore progresses without detection and treatment to stages II, III, and IV, there may be deeper involvement including muscles, bones and joints as well. Where do bedsores develop and how severe they are largely depend on the position of the individual, the amount of pressure being applied, and the length of time for which the position has been maintained.

Bedsores not only cause pain and discomfort, but may lead to infections, like meningitis, cellulitis, and endocarditis. Bedsore prevention and treatment can be complicated by the presence of other long term disorders like diabetes, heart failure, malnutrition, etc. Treatment of bedsores thus needs care of these underlying conditions.

How to prevent Bed Sores?

Bedsores may be prevented by regular vigilance and awareness. Some steps in prevention of pressure ulcers include:

Continuous Movements

Continuous movement and changing positions frequently relieves the pressure on skin areas that are vulnerable to bedsores. It is a good idea to reposition your body at least every couple of hours if you are bedridden. A patient with bedsores is made to lie in such a way that there is no pressure on bedsore to prevent its worsening. Correct sitting and lying positions, good posture, foot support, and use of daily aid products to prevent bed sores can help a lot.

Mattresses and Cushions

People who are bed-bound or who spend a considerable amount of time in the bed are at highest risk of developing bedsores. Conventional bed traps the body heat and moisture causing skin breakdown and rashes, leading to bedsores. Bed sore treatment and prevention lie in using the therapeutic low air loss mattress system.
A low air loss mattress has tiny laser made air holes in its top surface which continually blow out air causing the patient to float. This reduces skin interface pressure at the mattress surface. As a result, moisture is wicked away and the patient stays dry. This is an excellent therapeutic environment for the prevention and treatment of stages 1 to 4 pressure ulcers. The alternating air pressure mattress pulsates and oscillates from time to time to redistribute pressure.

Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment
Huntleigh Breeze Low Air Loss Mattress  Blue Chip Alternating Air Pressure Mattress ThevoAutoActiv Pressure Ulcer Mattress


Another effective way to prevent bed sores is to put pillows and seat cushions between parts of your body that press against each other. If you are lying on your side, it is better to put the pillow between your knees and ankles.

Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment
Posey Deluxe Molded Foam Cushion Medline Pressure Redistribution Cushion Bilt-Rite White Body Sleeper Pillow

Regular Skin Care

Regular skin care and inspection prevent bedsore development. Some tell-tale signs of bedsores include red patches of skin that do not fade, blisters, or damage to the skin. Keep your skin clean and dry, use skin cleansers that are non-drying, apply a water-based moisturizer daily, and use a bed sore cream to prevent bed sores. Be careful of bony areas and don’t rub or massage them. Ask a caregiver or medical professional for help if you need it. Particularly, keep the genital area and skin folds clean and dry.

Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment
TriDerma Diabetic Ulcer Defense Cream Abena Soft-Care Skin Cleansing Wipes 3M Cavilon No-Rinse Skin Cleanser

Use Heel and Elbow Protectors

Heel pillows and elbow protectors help prevent skin breakdown and bedsores in people who must spend long periods of time in bed. Heel pillows help protect heels and ankles from skin irritation and friction burns. These bedsore prevention products are filled with polyester fiber, covered with a cotton fabric and have a padded adjustable strap with a hook and loop fastener for quick and easy application. It is advisable to remove them at least every two hours to check for skin integrity, proper circulation, and range of motion.

Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment
Posey Heel Pillows Posey Sure Stay Heel Protectors Hudson Pressure Eez Heel and Elbow Protectors

Diet and Exercise

Exercising is a great way to prevent bedsores. Exercise increases the heart rate and results in increased blood circulation. When nutrient filled oxygenated blood reaches every part of the body, it reduces the chances of development of bedsores. It is possible for bedridden patients to perform a few range-of-motion exercises to reduce the risk of bedsores. For example, arm lifts and leg rotations. Patients at risk of developing bedsores are advised to eat a healthy and balanced diet. Quit smoking and alcohol. Include vitamin supplements if there is a deficiency.

Bedsores - Prevention and Treatment
Aeromat Texture Ring Hand Exerciser Abbott ProViMin Formula Component Big Grip Hand Exerciser

How to treat Bed Sores?

Once the pressure has been removed, early stage bedsores usually heal by themselves. Later stage bedsores are however difficult to treat. Pressure ulcer treatment is aimed to prevent infection and protect the affected area. To treat bedsores hydrocolloid dressings, hydrogel dressings, and foam dressings are recommended. Patients who have developed infections require antibiotics and special anti-bacterial dressings to kill bacteria and promote healing. DuoDERM hydrocolloid bandages by ConvaTec can be used to treat bedsores of all stages. They possess moisture-retention ability to absorb seepage from the injury or wound and protect the wound from bacteria and prevent infection. These bedsore treatment products are designed to speed up the process of wound healing by providing a moist environment to the affected area. DuoDERM dressing bandages successfully block oxygen, bacteria, and water vapor from permeating the bandage. They don't stick to the wound and can be easily removed without injuring the skin underneath. These bandages can normally remain in place for between 3 to 7 days. DuoDERM dressings should only be applied on bedsores that not infected.

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Convatec DuoDERM Signal Dressing Convatec DuoDERM CGF Border Dressing Convatec DuoDERM Hydroactive Sterile Gel


ConvaTec DuoDERM Signal hydrocolloid dressing features a visual indicator that allows you to determine exactly when the dressing should be changed to maximize wound healing.

Other Pressure Ulcer Dressings

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Coloplast Comfeel Plus Ulcer Dressing 3M Tegaderm Hydrocolloid Dressing Coloplast Comfeel Ulcer Care Dressing


If left untreated, later stage bedsores can be life-threatening. They can result in severe bone infections, blood poisoning, or sepsis. Deep bedsores often require surgical treatment to remove dead and decaying tissue (debridement). Consult your doctor or physical therapist immediately if bedsore worsens or show no sign of healing. With the appropriate preventive measures and pressure sore treatment, patients can significantly reduce the risk of developing bedsores.

 

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