Pressure sores (also called decubiti, or bedsores) are blisters or breaks in the skin. They are caused when the body's weight presses blood out of a certain area. The best treatment of pressure sores is prevention. How much time they take to heal depends on advanced they are.
- The most common areas for sores are the bony areas--tailbone, hips, heels, and elbows.
- Sores can appear when the skin keeps rubbing on a sheet.
- The skin breakdown starts from the inside, works up to the surface, and can happen in just 15 minutes.
- Damage can range from a change in color in unbroken skin to deep wounds down to the muscle or bone.
- For people with light skin in the first stage of a bedsore, the skin color may change to dark purple or red that does not turn pale under fingertip pressure. For people with dark skin, this area may become darker than normal.
- The affected area may feel warmer than the skin around it.
- Pressure sores that are not treated can lead to hospitalization and can require skin grafts.
- Check the skin daily. (Bath time is the ideal time to do this.)
- Provide a well-balanced diet, with enough vitamin C, zinc, and protein.
- Keep the skin dry and clean (urine left on the skin can cause sores and infection).
- Keep clothing loose.
- If splints or braces are used, make sure they are adjusted properly.
- Massage the body with light pressure, using equal parts surgical spirit and glycerin. (Ask a nurse or a pharmacist for advice.)
- Turn a person who is unable to get out of bed at least every 2 hours. Change the person's positions. Smooth wrinkles out of sheets.
- Lightly tape foam to bony sections of the body using paper tape, which will not hurt the skin when peeled off.
- Use flannel or 100% cotton sheets to absorb moisture.
- Provide an egg-crate or sheepskin mattress pad for added comfort.
- Rent an electrically operated ripple bed. These beds have sections that can be inflated separately and at different times.
- Avoid using a plastic sheet or a Chux if they cause sweating.
- When the person is sitting, encourage changing the body position every 15 minutes.
- Use foam pads on chair seats to cushion the buttocks.
- Change the type of chair the person sits in; try an open-back garden chair occasionally.
- Provide as much exercise as possible.
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