Treatment For Pressure Sores
There are a variety of treatments available to manage pressure sores and promote healing, depending on the severity of the pressure sore. These include:
- regular position changes
- special mattresses and beds that reduce pressure
- being aware of the importance of maintaining healthy diet and nutrition
- dressings to keep the sore moist and the surrounding skin dry. There is no advantage of one type of dressing over another.
- saline gauze dressing may be used if ointments or other dressings are unavailable.
- light packing of any empty skin spaces with dressings to help prevent infection
- regular cleaning with appropriate solutions, depending on the stage of the sore
- there is no advantage of one particular type of antiseptic or antibiotic treatment over another
- specific drugs and chemicals applied to the area, if an infection persists
- surgery to remove the damaged tissue that involves thorough debridement of the wound, the removal of underlying or exposed bone, and filling the empty space
- operations to close the wound, using skin grafts if necessary
- continuing supportive lifestyle habits such as eating a healthy and nutritious diet, as suggested by the nutritional staff.
How Can Pressure Injuries Be Prevented
The development of pressure injuries can be prevented through careful observation of the skin and frequent repositioning in those who canât turn themselves. Tips to prevent pressure injuries include:
- Keeping the skin clean and clear of bodily fluids.
- Moving and repositioning the body frequently to avoid constant pressure on bony parts of the body.
- Using foam wedges and pillows to help relieve pressure on bony parts of the body when turned in bed.
- Maintaining a healthy diet to avoid malnutrition and to assist in wound healing.
Reduce Friction And Shear
Friction is the rubbing of skin on an external surface, usually bed sheets. Friction to the most commonly affected areas can be reduced with protective devices. Heel and elbow cradles are typically made of egg-crate material and Velcro on.
Skin protecting dressings, such as films and thin hydrocolloid bandages can protect the skin from repeated friction but wont help reduce pressure.
The most important thing you can do to prevent injury from the friction is to make sure you dont create any yourself when youre repositioning your loved one. Use a draw sheet to help you lift your loved one off the bed when you lift and reposition.
Shear is created when the deeper fatty tissues and blood vessels are damaged by a combination of friction and gravity. The best way to avoid this type of injury is to avoid a semi-Fowler and upright position in bed. A semi-fowler position is where the head is raised less than 30 degrees and upright positions more than 30 degrees.
Now, you obviously cant avoid these positions all of the time. Many patients need to be semi-Fowler to help ease shortness of breath or prevent gastric reflux and all patients need to be in an upright position to eat safely.
To minimize the risk of shear injury in a semi-Fowler or upright position, take precautions to prevent your loved one from sliding down in bed. You can do this by raising the foot of the bed and propping the knees up with pillows.
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What Is Pressure Ulcer Elderly
Bedsores are ulcers that happen on areas of the skin that are under pressure from lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair, or wearing a cast for a prolonged time. Bedsores are also called pressure injuries, pressure sores, pressure ulcers, or decubitus ulcers. Bedsores can be a serious problem among frail older adults.
Special Devices That Can Help You
In addition to turning and repositioning frequently, using a special surface to reduce or relieve pressure can help a great deal. The simplest of these is an egg crate mattress. Many hospice and home health agencies provide these free of charge but they are relatively inexpensive at your local department store.
If your loved one is spending a lot of time up in a chair, egg crate chair pads are also available. An egg crate surface helps distribute pressure more evenly, helping minimize the amount of pressure on one area.
A step up from the egg crate mattress is an air mattress overlay. This type of surface is placed on top of a mattress and typically alternates air pressure in various columns. When using an egg crate mattress or an air mattress overlay, its still important to maintain the turning schedule. These devices dont replace frequent repositioning.
The big guns of pressure-relieving devices are the fluidized air mattresses. These special mattresses contain silicone-coated glass beads that become fluid when the air is pumped through them. These mattresses do a wonderful job of relieving pressure but they have their downside.
The frame of the mattress makes transferring to and from bed difficult. And if the person wants to sit up in bed, a foam wedge would probably need to be used to help support their back. This mattress is really best suited for palliative care patients who are fully bed-bound, have severe pressure ulcers, and are in a lot of pain.
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Common Health Risks Of A Bedridden Patient
A bedridden patient becomes vulnerable to various health complications like painful bed sores, circulation and respiratory problems, depression and contractures, due to lack of activity for long periods. Usha Ravi suggests steps to ensure proper nursing and caring for your loved one confined to the bed.
There are a host of challenges which arise if one is confined to bed because of sickness, disability or frail age. The burden is felt not only by the individual but also by the carers. It is important and beneficial for the carers to know what such individuals are going through and how they would like to be assisted.
This article addresses some of the common challenges and health risks of bedridden patients, and provides tips for the carers to prevent and manage those risks.
Some of the common complications:
- Active and passive exercise will assist in prevention of contractures
- Use of appropriate support for the limbs while placed in any position
- Splints, wedges and materials rolled and packed for maintaining natural contour and shape of the body is essential
- Monitoring extremities for drop and lack of natural strength is important.
- Medications to assist with pain and relaxation can also aid in prevention of contractures.
- Provide comfort measures as required.
How Are Bedsores Treated
Specific treatment of a bedsore is discussed with you by your healthcare provider and wound care team 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
- Removing the damaged, infected, or dead tissue
- Transplanting healthy skin to the wound area
- Negative pressure wound therapy
Healthcare professionals will watch the bedsore closely. They will document size, depth, and response to treatment
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Classification And Differential Diagnosis
Pressure sores are coded under diseases of the skin and its appendages . This disease entity does not include decubitus ulcers of the uterine cervix . The term refers to a wound that develops in the upper layers of the skin as the result of sustained, externally applied pressure and then enlarges both radially and into the deeper tissue layers, unless specific measures are taken to counteract the process . Decubitus ulcers are usually accompanied by an inflammatory reaction, and often by local bacterial colonization or systemic infection. Exudation from large areas of damaged skin leads to fluid and protein loss. Since decubitus ulcers first arise in the upper layers of the skin, then extend outward and downward, their severity is classified according to the depth of extension . Persistent hypoperfusion and pressure injury of the upper layers of the skin result in a circumscribed area of erythema and induration. This erythema does not blanch when the area is depressed with a fingertip or glass spatula . The damage can be reversed by removing the excessive pressure that caused it, as long as there is no open wound. As soon as a grade 1 decubitus ulcer is found, pressure-reducing measures such as pressure-free positioning, frequent changes of position, and frequent inspections should be ordered and carried out.
How Are Pressure Injuries Treated
Pressure injuries can be treated in many ways depending on the stage. Once the stage and severity of the wound is determined, it must be cleaned, usually with a saline solution. After the wound is cleaned, it needs to be kept clean, moist, and covered with an appropriate bandage. There are several different types of bandages your doctor may use to dress the wound. These include:
- Water-based gel with a dry dressing
- Foam dressing
- Hydrocolloid dressing
- Alginate dressing
Sometimes debridement is needed. This is a process of ridding the wound of dead tissue. Debridement is an important part of the healing process. It changes the wound from a long-lasting one to a short-term wound. There are several types of debridement. These methods include:
- Ultrasound: Using sound waves to remove the dead tissue.
- Irrigation: Using fluid to wash away dead tissue.
- Laser: Using focused light beams to remove the dead tissue.
- Biosurgery: Using maggots to eliminate bacteria from the wound.
- Surgery: Using surgery to remove the dead tissue and close the wound.
- Topical: Medical-grade honey or enzyme ointments.
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Causes Of Pressure Ulcers
Pressure ulcers are caused by sustained pressure being placed on a particular part of the body.
This pressure interrupts the blood supply to the affected area of skin. Blood contains oxygen and other nutrients that are needed to help keep tissue healthy. Without a constant blood supply, tissue is damaged and will eventually die.
The lack of blood supply also means that the skin no longer receives infection-fighting white blood cells. Once an ulcer has developed, it can become infected by bacteria.
People with normal mobility do not develop pressure ulcers, as their body automatically makes hundreds of regular movements that prevent pressure building up on any part of their body.
For example, you may think that you are lying still when asleep, but you may shift position up to 20 times a night.
Pressure ulcers can be caused by:
- pressure from a hard surface such as a bed or wheelchair
- pressure that is placed on the skin through involuntary muscle movements such as muscle spasms
- moisture which can break down the outer layer of the skin
The time it takes for a pressure ulcer to form will depend on:
- the amount of pressure
- how vulnerable a person’s skin is to damage
Grade 3 or 4 pressure ulcers can develop quickly. For example, in susceptible people, a full-thickness pressure ulcer can sometimes develop in just 1 or 2 hours. However, in some cases, the damage will only become apparent a few days after the injury has occurred.
What Are The Risk Factors For Bedsores
Being bedridden, unconscious, unable to sense pain, or immobile increases the risk that a bedsore will develop. The risk increases if the person is not turned, positioned correctly, or provided with proper nutrition and skin care. People with diabetes, circulation problems and malnutrition are at higher risk.
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Deformity Of Muscle And Joints
Resting in bed for long is deceptively thought to be healing in nature, but it is contradictory to what our body is designed for. One of the common concerns is deformity of muscle and joints due to stiffness. This not only leads to limitations in mobility, but also pain. The range of motion gets affected in the upper and lower limbs and joints, hampering independent feeding, hygiene, weight bearing and mobility. Commonly found deformities are: wrist and foot drops, both of which can be prevented to an extent. Preventive measures include exercises and use of devices that help maintain normal alignment of body parts.
Addressing Deformity and Stiffness
- A small towel or a roll of face washer can be given to hold in the palm.
- Frequent active and passive movements of the fingers and wrist joints.
- Stress balls, squishy material or toys can help in maintaining range of motions.
- Interlacing ones own hands, making motions of wringing hands is another exercise one can try.
- Warm water baths prior to active and passive range of motion can alleviate pain and improve restrictive movements.
- Legs resting in a slab and L shaped orthotic device can assist maintaining the normal shape of the feet.
- Wearing well-fitting clothes will relieve pressure that could impede circulation.
- Ensuring full range of motions of the joints, right from head to toe, to be encouraged as tolerated. This can be passive if not active.
Who’s Most At Risk Of Getting Pressure Ulcers
Anyone can get a pressure ulcer, but the following things can make them more likely to form:
- being over 70 older people are more likely to have mobility problems and skin that’s more easily damaged through dehydration and other factors
- being confined to bed with illness or after surgery
- inability to move some or all of the body
- medical conditions that affect blood supply, make skin more fragile or cause movement problems such as diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, kidney failure, heart failure, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
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Symptoms Of Pressure Ulcers
The parts of the body most at risk of developing pressure ulcers are those that are not covered by a large amount of body fat and are in direct contact with a supporting surface, such as a bed or a wheelchair.
For example, if you are unable to get out of bed, you are at risk of developing pressure ulcers on your:
- shoulders or shoulder blades
- knees, ankles, heels or toes
- tail bone
If you are a wheelchair user, you are at risk of developing pressure ulcers on:
- your buttocks
- the back of your arms and legs
- the back of your hip bone
When To Get Medical Advice
If you’re in hospital or a care home, tell your healthcare team as soon as possible if you develop symptoms of a pressure ulcer. It’ll probably continue to get worse if nothing is done about it.
You should be regularly monitored and offered advice and treatment to reduce the risk of pressure ulcers, but sometimes they can develop even with the highest standards of care.
If you’re recovering from illness or surgery at home, or you’re caring for someone confined to bed or a wheelchair, contact your GP surgery if you think you or the person you’re caring for might have a pressure ulcer.
Get medical advice immediately if there is:
- red, swollen skin
- pus coming from the pressure ulcer or wound
- cold skin and a fast heartbeat
- severe or worsening pain
- a high temperature
These symptoms could be a sign of a serious infection that needs to be treated as soon as possible.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Bedsores
Bedsores are divided into 4 stages, from least severe to most severe. These are:
- Stage 1. The area looks red and feels warm to the touch. With darker skin, the area may have a blue or purple tint. The person may also complain that it burns, hurts, or itches.
- Stage 2. The area looks more damaged and may have an open sore, scrape, or blister. The person complains of significant pain and the skin around the wound may be discolored.
- Stage 3. The area has a crater-like appearance due to damage below the skin’s surface.
- Stage 4. The area is severely damaged and a large wound is present. Muscles, tendons, bones, and joints can be involved. Infection is a significant risk at this stage.
A wound is not assigned a stage when there is full-thickness tissue loss and the base of the ulcer is covered by slough or eschar is found in the wound bed. Slough may be tan, grey, green, brown, or yellow in color. Eschar is usually tan, brown or black.
How To Prevent Pressure Ulcers Or Bed Sores
Pressure ulcers are a common problem in palliative care patients. Decreased mobility, increased time spent in bed, and altered nutrition make these patients prime targets for skin breakdown. Pressure ulcers are painful. As a caregiver, one of the most important things you can do to keep your patient comfortable is to prevent one from developing.
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Key Points About Bed Sores
- Bedsores are ulcers that happen on areas of the skin that are under pressure from lying in bed, sitting in a wheelchair, and/or wearing a cast for a prolonged period.
- Bedsores can happen when a person is bedridden, unconscious, unable to sense pain, or immobile.
- Bedsores can be prevented by inspecting the skin for areas of redness every day with particular attention to bony areas.
Failure Of Reactive Hyperaemia Cycle
It is a known fact that tissue distortion causes ischaemia that in turn stimulates protective movements to relieve pressure and circulatory activity to restore normal blood flow in the affected areas. These protective movements are often reflexes as the person is unaware of making them. However, if these prompt actions prove insufficient to relieve ischaemia, the central nervous system is stimulated by constant signals of discomfort and pain to make sure that the pressure is relieved before any permanent damage occurs. Once the pressure is relieved, and the circulation restored, local capillaries begin to dilate and increased blood flow takes place, referred to as reactive hyperaemia. As a result, a bright pink transitory patch appears on the skin, often called blanching erythema because it blanches on pressure unlike the dull red non-blanching erythema that indicates tissue damage . Reactive hyperaemia ensures a rapid restoration of oxygen and carbon dioxide balance it also flushes out waste products. Erythema subsides as soon as tissues are restored to their resting state.
Various grading of pressure ulcer . A very severe trochanteric pressure ulcer where destruction is so severe that the femoral head dislocated and came out
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