How to
prevent and deal with bedsores before it is too late

Not
everyone is privy to the gory sight of bedsores. Most people are clueless as to
what it is and what caused it.

A friend
of mine was horrified to see significantly large crater-like wounds exposing
fat and muscle on her bedridden mother in law’s heels and hips and rushed to
fetch a doctor, doubting something seriously fatal. She wasn’t wrong.

The fact
is that untreated bedsores are killing many hospital and bedridden patients as
they lead to ulcers which are dangerous.  But another point not to be
missed out is that these bedsores are easier to prevent than to treat. Of
course, this does not mean that the whole process is free from any
complications but prevention measures help in reducing the development of
infection and worsening of the condition.

Let us
understand first how bedsores develop.

Bedsores
or pressure sores as they are also called are injuries to the skin or
underlying tissue due to prolonged pressure in that area. And they often
develop on the skin that covers the bony parts of the body namely, hips,
elbows, heels, shoulders and tailbone. So obviously the treatment should
primarily be directed towards frequent shifting of positions.

Here is
how it should be done*
If the patient is confined to a bed

  • The sleeping position has to
    be changed every once in two hours.
  • The bony areas have to be
    protected by a soft cushion or folded linen to avoid contact with the hard
    surface of the bed and reduce pressure. Heels can be floated mid-air with
    padding beneath the calves.
  • Adjust the elevation of the
    bed. This prevents shearing of the skin.
  • Special cushions like foam
    and gel or mattresses like an air-filled or water-filled mattress should
    be used. This helps in easy repositioning, relieving pressure and hence
    protecting the sensitive areas. 
  • Mild exercise by lifting of
    arms or feet or using trapeze bars if the upper body is strong should be
    done regularly. 

*If the
patient is wheelchair-bound

  • Weight of the body should be
    shifted every 15 minutes and position should be changed once every hour.
  • If upper body strength is
    good, then wheelchair push-ups help relieve the pressure from vulnerable
    areas.
  • Special cushions like the
    ones mentioned earlier can be used as a padding on the seat. And there are
    special wheelchairs available which can tilt and help reduce pressure 

Taking
care of the skin

  • Frequent checking of the
    skin is important to identify any developing sores. Caregivers have to be
    instructed to do the same regularly.
  • Skin should be kept clean
    with the help of mild soap and warm water.
  • It is important to keep the
    skin protected from excessive moisture by using talcum powder, frequent
    change of clothes or diapers. And from dryness by using protective
    lotions.
  • Keep the skin hydrated with
    sufficient fluid intake and eating a healthy diet.

Despite
proper planning, managing bedsores can be a very tedious and exhausting task
and there usually lapses resulting in the situation spiralling out of control.
A good alternative would be to hire professional caregivers who are trained to
handle such condition compassionately and effectively, helping the patients and
their families cope better.

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