Jessica Hegg of ViveHealth
10 EASY WAYS TO PREVENT BED SORES DURING RECOVERY
While bed sores are something we typically worry about when we get older, they also pose a threat to those recovering from injury or surgery.
Due to immobility during recovery, those spending the majority of the day in bed must be aware of the potential dangers. And while that’s easier said than done, we’re here to help – we’ve put together a list of the 10 best ways you can help prevent bed sores from forming.
1. EVERY DAY INSPECTION
Check the entire body every day for signs of bed sores forming
This is the single best tip for the prevention of bed sores. Check the entire body for spots, color changes, and other signs of bed sores, especially in areas of the body that are bony, or lack much padding – these are often the first areas afflicted.
2. MONITOR EXISTING SORES
Test vulnerable, discolored areas
Check for discomfort, warmness, and blanching of the skin by pressing and releasing a vulnerable area. If you press down on the skin and it does not respond by whitening (blanching) at the pressure, it could be at risk, or on its way to developing a bed sore, and extra care should be taken to avoid pressure on that area.
3. TREAT TENDERLY
Avoid massaging skin over bony areas
Massaging or rubbing skin over bony or at-risk areas can lead to bed sore development, as it stresses vulnerable skin. Avoid excessive touching or rubbing of at-risk areas, especially where there isn’t much padding between bone and skin.
4. FREQUENT REPOSITION
Change body position every 1-2 hours, and more frequently in a chair.
By changing the position of the body often, you can reduce the chances of bed sores forming, as pressure will never continuously remain on just one area of tissue.
5. PROPER POSITIONING
Avoid raising of the head by over 30 degrees
If the head is raised above 30 degrees, increased pressure and friction can become an issue, as skin will slide over the bedspread, potentially causing further damage. A slight inclination is a good idea, as it changes the areas of tissue under pressure, but it should be minimal and varied, in order to maintain good tissue health.
6. PILLOW ASSISTANCE
Use pillows to reduce pressure in vulnerable areas
You can use a pillow under the hip bone – an area that typically has very little padding, and is often rested upon when lying on the side – to reduce the pressure on the bony area, encouraging the weight to rest on the fleshy part of the buttocks, rather than the bony hip.
In addition, pillows can be used to keep knees and ankles apart – knees and ankles that rest together can cause nasty ulcers, and keeping a small degree of separation between the two reduces the risk, and adds comfort.
7. REDUCE PRESSURE
Use pressure-reducing devices if necessary, or if mobility is limited
For lower-grade conditions, this can be as simple as an egg-crate foam mattress pad or a sheepskin pad, and for higher grade conditions it could be a fully-inflating alternating pressure mattress cover, or mattress. These devices help spread out pressure, reducing the risk of pressure ulcers.
Do note, however, that while they are helpful, they do not eliminate the need to reposition. Constant repositioning is still a must – these devices simply reduce the risk somewhat.
8. SKIN MANAGEMENT
Keep skin healthy and dry
Mild soaps and moisturizers should be used, when necessary, to keep skin both dry and healthy – not overly dried, not overly moist, but at a healthy level that will help maintain integrity under pressure.
9. PROPER HYGIENE
Keep the body, clothing, and bedspread clean
This includes necessary incontinence procedures – the acidity of urine can be dangerous even to healthy skin, and the pathogens in feces pose a great risk of infection. Dirty skin, clothing, and bedsheets also increase friction and discomfort.
Clothing should be lightweight, breathable, and clean, as should the bedspreads.
10. HEALTHY DIET & WATER
Enforce appropriate diet and hydration protocols
Hydration and good diet are important to maintain overall health, and especially skin health. Ensure adequate hydration, as well as foods and supplements with skin-boosting properties like vitamins C and E, high levels of proteins and omega-3 fatty acids, and balanced nutrition.
If the patient has other conditions such as diabetes, ensure that blood sugar and insulin levels are healthy and well-maintained.
Prevention is Key!If you follow these 10 easy steps, preventing serious bed sores will be a no-brainer. Reduce pressure, keep skin healthy and clean, and make sure that movement and repositioning are easy, and undertaken often.