What is bedsore ?
Known to doctors as decubitus ulcers, bedsores are the result of skin being suffocated beneath the weight of the body. These lesions are caused by continuous extended pressure on the skin, usually in an area over a prominent bone or cartilage structure such as the hips or tailbone. This pressure restricts the flow of blood, and therefore the supply of oxygen and nutrients, to that part of the skin. Ultimately, the smaller blood vessels clot and a sore red patch of skin appears. If not attended to, it can crack open and develop into a painful wound.
Signs & symptoms of bedsores :
The first sign of a developing pressure sore is reddening of the skin. There may be local swelling or hardening of the tissue as well. Eventually, if the pressure is not relieved, the skin breaks down and ulcerates, and infection may take hold. Obviously, people who are confined to bed for long periods are most at risk for this problem. Wheelchair users also have an increased risk of developing pressure sores. An individual who suffers from impaired wound healing, common in older adults and people with diabetes, can develop bedsores rather quickly.
When it comes to bedsores, prevention is better than treatment. It is also necessary to rule out the possibility that another disorder might be mimicking a bedsore, especially if the sore appears to be spreading at an unusually fast rate. Herpes lesions, bacterially induced ulcers, and even skin cancers can look likebedsores, but require different treatment.
General recommendations for bedsore :
- If you are in a situation in which pressure sores are a possibility, be vigilant in monitoring your skin for any signs of reddening, and treat any possible sores aggressively.
- Exposure to fresh air and natural light is important.
Preventive measures for bedsore :
Prevention of pressure sores is based on limiting the amount of time any area of skin is subjected to pressure. Most doctors recommend moving every fifteen minutes. If this is impossible, as in the case of a bedridden person, he or she should be turned at least every hour, and both bed linens and skin should be kept clean and dry. Keeping the bedclothes as unwrinkled as possible is important. The softest bed surface possible is also desirable. If you use a wheelchair, a pressure-reducing pillow can help minimize pressure on susceptible areas. Even so, you should shift your position in the chair frequently. Wear loose, clean cotton clothing.
Treatment of Bedsores :
- As soon as you suspect a pressure sore may be developing, take step at once to relieve the pressure on that part of body, and keep it clean and dry. Clean foam underlays may help lower pressure at the site. If the problem is not too advanced, this may be all that is needed, and the developing sore may heal on its own.
- If more aggressive treatment is called for, absorbent foamlike bandages may be applied and changed frequently. There are also special dressings with a water based suspension that may be used as a covering to protect the site. Topical antibiotic ointment may be applied to prevent infection.
- If the area is moist, topical zinc oxide ointment can help to dry the sore out.
- For more advanced sores, debridement may be required. Your doctor may also prescribe systemic antibiotic treatment to fight infection.
- Specific treatment of a bed sore is determined by your physician and based on the severity of the condition. Treatment may be more difficult once the skin is broken, and may include the following:
- removing pressure on the affected area
- protecting the wound with medicated gauze or other special dressings
- keeping the wound clean
- transplanting healthy skin to the wound area
- medication (i.e., antibiotics to treat infections)