Effective Ways to Prevent Pressure Ulcers
Frequent movement is just one way to prevent pressure ulcers.
They are often seen as little more than an annoyance, but for many non-medical personnel, bedsores – or as they’re known technically, pressure ulcers – are a huge issue in the wound care community. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, bedsores cost between $9.1 and $11.6 billion in the U.S. each year. Not only that, but these painful sores contribute to thousands of patient deaths every year, per figures from Harvard Medical School. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent these painful wounds, and doing so can save patients a lot of time, money and physical pain.
Clean the skin
Despite the name, pressure ulcers can also result from moisture exposure. This is especially evident with incontinent patients who are unable to protect themselves from bodily fluids. That’s why it’s so important that these special patients receive regular cleanings. The best agent is a perineal cleanser, as it removes both biological materials and won’t further irritate the skin. When cleaning, though, be sure to rub delicately, as this can irritate already sensitive skin. Part of the cleaning process may also involve barrier cream, which helps retain moisture and builds a wall between skin and harmful irritants.
Know the warning signs
Though the development of pressure ulcers depends on the patient, it usually doesn’t take long for them to appear. In fact, according to Johns Hopkins Medical School, some of these sores can begin forming after just a few hours of prolonged rest . As such, it’s important to recognize the immediate signs of bedsores to prevent them from reaching a critical stage. Common symptoms include discoloration – similar to a deep-colored bruise – spongy skin and localized temperature increases. Using a pocket mirror is the most through method, as it can also give patients and doctors better access to hard-to-see areas.
Keep the patient moving
Preventing bedsores is all about reducing pressure on the skin. One of the easiest ways to do that is to ensure the patient changes positions with some frequency. For most patients, that means switching between laying on your back to your side every couple of hours. However, as the Mayo Clinic pointed out, even shifting your weight slightly every 15 minutes can also prove helpful. In addition to frequent moves, you can use pillows to help reduce overall pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, the best spots for pillows are under your elbows, shoulders and tailbone.
Use proper dressings
Not only are certain creams perfect for building moisture barriers, but many physicians rely on dressings to block out harmful irritants. Hydrocolloid dressings are an optimal choice, as they improve healing rates by properly regulating moisture levels. Alginates are another option, and these dressings are made of fibers that have been cultivated from seaweed. As a result, they’re known for being especially adept at sustaining proper levels of hydration. Alginates can also be used on most sores without interrupting the wound healing process.
Whether you’re looking for hydrocolloid or alginate dressings, Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in the delivery of specialized wound care supplies.