The best treatment for a bed sore is to begin early with measures that prevent the bed sore from developing. Health care providers along with the patient’s family or support group can be successful in creating a strategic plan for making sure the patient’s positioning and health needs are met to reduce the risk for bed sore development.
A successful strategy for reducing the risk of developing bed sores includes frequent changes in position. The positioning strategy and frequency will depend upon the type of immobility of the patient, such as confined to a bed or chair. For those confined to a wheelchair, the recommendation is to reposition every 15 to 30 minutes. For those confined to a bed, it is recommended that a position change occur at least once every two hours and even during the night. For patients who are unable to assist themselves in changing position, a caregiver or family member must be available to move the patient.
The use of pressure relieving devices can assist in reducing the risk for developing bed sores. For those confined to a chair, various cushions that are filled with foam, air, water, or gel, can help to appropriately position the body in the chair. Pressure release wheelchairs may also be used which tilt to help in position changes. For persons confined to a bed, there are specialized cushions, mattress pads, and air-filled or water-filled mattresses designed to alleviate pressure and protect vulnerable areas. Additionally, cushions should be used to reduce pressure between bony areas such as the hip, knees, and ankles.
Careful inspection of the skin is necessary to identify stage 1 sores before they worsen. The skin should be thoroughly inspected at least once a day. Additionally, it is important to keep the skin clean, wash regularly and pat dry. The skin should be kept at an optimal moisture level, skin that is exposed to excess moisture can be kept dry with powders, while skin that is excessively dry should have lotion applied. Additionally, assistance in managing incontinence is an important factor in overall skin care health.
Proper nutrition is an important factor contributing to skin health and healing. Often, those that are at risk of developing bed sores are often the same ones that are malnourished either because of a loss of appetite or inability to properly feed themselves. A doctor or dietitian can give recommendations for the proper amount of calories, fluids, proteins, and minerals in your diet. A plan may include adding supplements such as vitamin C or zinc to further promote good skin health. Assistance with feeding may be needed to ensure that meals and fluids are being consumed.
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