Not a very pleasant skin condition, the blood supply is cut off to the skin around the bony areas of the patients body, this is due to constant pressure [generally the patient is unable to change their position themselves], and this leads to a small ulcer [little sore] forming, this is the start of a pressure or bed sore.
These sores can be treated quite effectively but if left untreated can be life threatening due to secondary infection etc. and patients who are prone to getting this problem are:
The problem areas that need constant care are:
* tail bone [lower back]
All these areas are prone to pressure problems, the position of the patient dictates where they will most likely get the sore. Even though some patients have limited mobility it is still very important to check these areas on a daily basis and give them pressure care [washing of the area with warm water, drying by dabbing, and gently massaging the area with a baby lotion to restore circulation] on the areas that are showing signs of pressure at least 4 hourly but preferably 2 hourly.
Symptoms of a bedsore
* signs of infection – redness, swelling, moistness or pus formation
* discoloration of the skin in the area
* broken skin over the bony area – tearing or a ulcer [sore]
There are 4 stages in diagnosing the seriousness of the condition:
1) Darkened or reddened skin that does not turn white when pressed
2) The appearance of blisters or abrasions
3) Skin loss that includes the underlying tissue
4) Skin loss that goes deeper than the underlying tissue thus involving the muscle and the bone
It is very important to start treatment the second you see the problem, if the sore is small it can be treated and healed by regular dressing and pressure care. Deep and large bedsores are very difficult to heal with dressing etc and plastic surgery may be needed in a attempt to heal the open sore.
Conditions that can increase the chance of pressure sores in the inactive patient
* bladder incontinence
* bowel incontinence
* poor nutrition
* decreased mental awareness due to medication
* Change to patients position every two hours
* keep the skin clean and dry at all times
* massage the pressure areas gently every 2 – 4 hourly
* do some physio on the limbs wherever possible
* a ripple mattress will assist with the blood circulation
* use soft cushions, pillows or other forms of support to keep pressure of the problem area and to help change the patients position
* ensure the patient has a well balanced diet with extra protein to maintain healthy tissue and help with tissue repair, vitamin C and zinc supplements will also help with wound repair.
* keep patient hydrated at all times
Educating family members who assist in the care of these patients is also very important as the care givers cannot be there 24/7 and there will be times when they have to care for the family member.
If after treating the pressure areas to the best of your ability and they are just getting worse, please get your doctor to have a look at them. They may be infected and some serious medication might be needed.. Caregivers agency