How to Prevent Bedsores?

Understanding how to prevent bedsores: People who spend a lot of time in bed or immobile in a wheelchair are at risk of developing bedsores. Bedsores are a painful complication encountered by those who spend long periods of inactivity in a sitting or lying position. This article looks at how bedsores can be treated and prevented.

How to prevent bedsores

How to prevent bedsores: Bedsores form as a result of persistent pressure on the same areas of the skin. The pressure compromises the blood supply to the skin tissues, weakening it and encouraging painful ulcers to form.

You can reduce and alleviate constant pressure by using specially designed mattresses and chair covers. It’s also important to keep the skin dry, so choose pure cotton bedding, rather than synthetic fabrics that can encourage sweating.

Ensure that the person affected drinks plenty of fluid and has a healthy diet. This will ensure that the skin remains well-nourished and well-hydrated, meaning that it is less prone to ulceration.

The skin should be kept as clean and dry as possible. If the person is incontinent, make sure that any soiling is removed as soon as possible, and use disposable pads that help to wick away moisture from the skin. At washing times, check the skin on the buttocks, thighs, and heels for areas of reddening that could indicate a potential problem area.

A person who is immobile should change position every couple of hours to relieve pressure on vulnerable areas. Help the person to move, but be careful not to drag them across the bed, as you may cause friction damage to the skin.

Applying moisturizing lotion to the skin will help to keep it hydrated and elastic, making it less likely to break. Ask the person’s doctor or professional care agency to recommend a suitable product for you to use and desist using any product on areas of skin that become ulcerated.

Action to take if bedsores flare up

Understanding how to prevent bedsores: The first thing to do if you discover an area of reddened skin is to remove the pressure from that area by moving the person.

Don’t massage the skin as this could aggravate the developing ulcer. If the area is found to be soiled with feces or urine, clean and dry it. Allow 15 minutes or so for the area to settle and re-check it. If the redness has disappeared, you don't need to take any further action.

If reddening persists, or a blister or an ulcer develops, always consult the person’s doctor without delay.

Bedsore dressings must be changed at least twice each day and the bedsores should be cleaned each time. Use saline solution for cleaning, rather than tap water and only use a cleansing product that is recommended by the person’s doctor. Never use harsh or perfumed soap to clean bedsores.

When dressing a bedsore, use a piece of gauze as a dressing and moisten it slightly before you apply it to prevent it from sticking to the bedsore; this will encourage the healthy skin around the bedsore to heal and grow. The dressing should be held in place with a clean, dry bandage. However, be careful not to fasten the bandage too tightly, as this could make the pressure on the area worse.

Not all bedsores cause the sufferer pain until the sore is cleaned and dressed. However, your doctor will advise you on what pain medication should be administered if it is needed.

A persistent bedsore can be treated by debridement. Debridement involves removing the dead tissue in the bedsore, thus depriving bacteria of a suitable environment in which to grow and thrive. However, in some cases where it is unlikely that a persistent sore will ever completely heal, the doctor may prefer to leave the dead tissue or scabbing in situ so that it acts as a kind of natural bandage.

Preventing bedsores

By following the above guidelines, you can help to prevent the development of bedsores by providing correct skincare to a vulnerable person. If a bedsore becomes very painful and inflamed or begins discharging pus or weeping, always seek medical advice.

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Last Reviewed:
July 06, 2017
Last Updated:
October 18, 2017