What are bed sores?
Bed sores and pressure ulcers are the same thing, and anyone who is immobile and sitting or laying down for long periods at a time can get them. Skin and tissue need circulation to stay healthy, and extended bed rest and immobility creates the perfect recipe for painful sores to form. If a patient is not moved frequently enough, and blood supply gets too low, a sore can form. Not only can they develop quickly, but once they develop, they can be difficult to treat, thus prevention is a critical strategy.
Who is at risk of developing pressure ulcers?
Patients who spend a lot of time either laying down or immobile tend to be at the greatest risk of developing bed sores. Those who are paralyzed, use a wheelchair, or spend the majority of their time in bed tend to develop pressure sores because of the poor blood circulation, friction or shear that come part and parcel with their situation. Often, the elderly and paralyzed tend to be at risk. Areas of the body most likely to develop pressure ulcers include the tail bone, the shoulder blades, the back of the head, and the backs and sides of the knees--essentially all the areas that have little fat to cushion them.
Once they develop, the more they advance, the more difficult they are to treat. Bed sores at stage one might just burn, hurt, itch or feel irritated and warm to the touch. By stage two, it might look like a very painful open blister. Once it reaches stage three, it might have a depression under the blister, because the wound has gotten deeper and the tissue below the skin is now damaged. By stage four, infection becomes a formidable threat, as muscles, bones, tendons and joints become vulnerable to the ulcer. This is when it is most serious, and can potentially be life threatening should an infection set in.
Way to PREVENT bed sores:
1. GET A PROPER HOSPITAL BED MATTRESS
Part of the reason why bed sores develop in the first place is because of poor circulation to tissues because of prolonged pressure on a pressure point without any fresh blood circulation. Several hospital bed mattresses are designed to help prevent this problem with patient turning technology built in with percussion and vibration. These mattresses are usually foam filled or air filled, and they are designed to help with positioning patients to avoid pressure ulcers.
2. REPOSITION REGULARLY
This can be achieved either by exercise, or by physical therapist assisted physical activity. Exercise can improve blood circulation, which not only strenghtens muscles, but also benefits overall health. If exercise is not an option, repositioning, lifting, or using special cushions can also help alleviate the problem.
3. PRIORITIZE NUTRITION
Good health starts from the inside out. Getting enough fluids, calories, vitamins, protein and minerals daily is essential for preventing tissue from breaking down. This includes getting enough hydration and vitamin C and zinc.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR SKIN
Taking care of the skin is the earliest way of spotting if there is a problem with bed sores, which are easier to treat at the earlier stages. It is important to inspect it daily, keep it dry, moisturized, and clean. This is especially important for immobile patients with incontinence.