Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, are a common problem among individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility. These sores develop when pressure is applied to a specific area of the skin for an extended period of time. This pressure can cause damage to the skin and underlying tissue, leading to painful, open wounds.
Fortunately, there are several steps that caregivers can take to prevent and treat bed sores. Here are some tips to help keep your loved one comfortable and promote healing:
Tip #1 - Keep the affected area clean and dry
This is EXTREMELY important! Drying out the wound will promote healing at a rapid pace. DON'T use chemical-laden soaps to clean a wound. Opt for a saline solution or a non-toxic wound cleanser, which will both clean the wound and remove any foreign debris. GENTLY pat dry and make sure patient is able to stay in a position for at least 10-15 min to give the wound time to completely dry before moving onto your next steps. I always had a couple bottles of this saline solution and wound cleanser on hand, especially for these instances.
Tip #2 - Use creams, ointments, and special bandages to promote healing
After allowing ample time for the wound to dry and breathe, the next important step would be to apply a cream/ointment of your choosing and bandage the wound to protect it. If the wound/bedsore is located in a private area, you'll 100% want to make sure it's protected from urinary and/or bowel incontinence. When applying any type of cream/ointment, make sure that you gently apply and only use a small amount, directly on the wound and slightly around it's border. I've had proven success with these products in the links below:
*Nick's Pro Tip: Cut a square of the dressing(slightly bigger than the wound), gently apply on the wound after a light ointment application, then proceed to cover with a bandage. If wound is smaller than the dressing, you'll be able to avoid wasting products by cutting them to size.
** I provided a couple different options. I've used different combinations of these based on a bunch of different scenarios in the past(size of wound, stage of wound, location of wound, etc. Please don't hesitate to reach out and I'll be glad to give you some advice based on your patient's predicament.
Tip #3 - Use a pressure-relieving device
Specialty beds, mattresses, and cushions are designed to redistribute pressure and prevent sores from forming. These can be especially helpful for individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility. I purchased an air mattress topper for my father's hospital bed, along with a pad for his wheelchair. The wheelchair pad is very important, especially with the hole by the tailbone for extra pressure relief for sitting for long durations of time. I would put the foot cushions off and on his feet throughout the day and at bedtime, which not only provided cushion for his feet, but also helped with stability. Products used may vary based on a patient's condition. Since my dad was very fragile and fully paralyzed, I had to make sure I had pressure relief for him for every type scenario.
Air Mattress Wheelchair Cushions Foot Cushions
Tip #4 - Reposition the person frequently
Changing positions every two hours can help prevent bedsores from forming. This is especially important for individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility. In my father's condition, I made sure to change his positioning every 1 1/2 to 2 hours at most. A couple hours a day, I would move him from his bed to his wheelchair and moved him into the living room for a change of scenery.
When treating bedsores, try to keep your patient off the affected area as much as possible. I would use pillows to assist with moving my father into various different positions. This was very helpful, and definitely helped speed up the healing process.
Tip #5 - Monitor the affected area regularly. Keep an eye out for signs of infection, such as redness, warmth, or drainage
I cannot stress this enough. Take immediate action if you notice early stages of bedsores. Please contact a medical professional if you see any early warning signs of advanced stage bedsores. There's always a possibility that underlying issues are beyond that of the skin.
Tip #6 - Keep the person's skin moisturized
It's important to find that happy medium when it comes to moisturizing a patient's skin. Too dry could cause cracking, too wet can cause irritation and increase the likelihood of breaking the skin as well. I recommend a light application of coconut oil or aloe(right from the plant, not a bottle)
Tip #7 - Provide adequate nutrition and hydration
Ensure that your patient is consuming their recommended dosages of fluids(primarily water) based on their weight. This will help keep skin healthy and promote faster healing if wounds or bedsores are present.
Tip #8 - IF YOU NOTICE A BEDSORE WORSENING AND/OR GROWING, CONSULT A WOUND CARE SPECIALIST IMMEDIATELY!
While it's very likely you can help heal a bedsore if caught in early stages(Stage 1 or Stage 2), sometimes things don't go as planned. Don't second guess yourself if things take a turn for the worst. Bedsores could lead to infection, or even death in certain instances. One of the hardest type of bedsores to heal are ones near the tailbone. For paralyzed patients, it's going require extra attention and care if you have any hope of accomplishing this feat on your own. Please proceed with caution!
By following these tips, caregivers can help prevent and treat bed sores, keeping their loved ones comfortable and promoting healing. Remember that bed sores can take a long time to heal, so it's important to be patient and consistent in your care.
Please review and strongly consider purchasing some of the products that I've included links to within this article. I've had proven success with them treating bedsores on my fully-paralyzed parent a number of times over the span of a decade. It took me A LOT of trial and error with a number of different remedies before finally getting it right! Best of luck on your journey! Don't hesitate to reach out to speak with me!