Caretakes have plenty of things to look after but one thing they need to be most careful about is bedsores. Bedsores also called pressure injuries, that aren’t accurately handled, are accountable for 60,000 deaths each year and the rate is increasing at a frightening pace, according to a recent report. “63 percent increase in the past alone.”
Here are 8 things caretakers should know about bedsores.
WHAT ARE BEDSORES?
Jerisa Berry, DO, board-certified in emergency medicine in Palm Beach County Florida, co-owner of medical clinic, Vital Care Medical Center, Inc. in Greenacres, Florida, and owner of Home Health Agency, Home Helpers of Palm Beach, explains, “Bedsores, decubitus or pressure ulcers, begin as inflammation of the skin from the prolonged position, which has prevented normal circulation to that localized area of pressure.” She tells, “The longer the person’s skin remains under pressure to that area, the skin sloughs off because it essentially dies from poor circulation. They begin as reddened areas, which serves as the initial warning to initiate therapy, both physical care and topical creams.”
HOW TO PREVENT BEDSORES
Bardia Anvar, MD, medical director of Skilled Wound Care with offices in Los Angeles and Dallas, states that old patients and those who have undergone paralysis or stroke are especially weak as are those with immobility since they have trouble sensing pressure and cannot roll aside from the pressure region. Dr. Anvar suggests, “Keep the body off from areas of pressure, especially while in bed.” He informs, “One key prevention method is to seek out specialty mattresses like those with foam padding, and make sure that there is extra padding on chairs and wheelchairs. It is also important for the person to maintain healthy diets with adequate protein and carbohydrates and multi-vitamins to supplement their nutritional intake.”
WHY BEDSORES ARE DANGEROUS
Nearly 60,000 patients die every year from pressure injuries associated with a deadly infection called sepsis, according to Dr. Anvar. He explains, “Very dangerous microorganisms can gain access to the bloodstream from a pressure wound. Patients can also suffer some severe deformities from these wounds such as amputations of limbs and huge defects in the body after healing.”
He further adds that “Pressure also can limit mobility, cause severe pain, and can be very bad-smelling and embarrassing for patients.”
HOW TO TREAT BEDSORES
According to Dr. Anvar, a bedsore is not infected and is clean then it can be treated with regular bandage alterations and total offloading from the range of injury. He states, “If the wound is infected or dying tissue (known as necrosis) is detected, then it must be treated with surgical debridement, which is a rapid method of removal (using chemical agents may take longer). Once the wounds are clean, there are multiple wound dressings on the market that facilitate healing.”
HOW CAN HOME CARETAKERS BE CAREFUL ABOUT OBVIATING BEDSORES?
Dr. Berry, as a proprietor of a home health agency, urges caretakers to adequately check the backside and buttocks of bed-ridden patients at each shift, observing if there has been any difference or unusual redness of that area. She says, “They must also document their findings of the examination, as well as take photos of the initial deterioration. Photos are taken on a regular basis to note if there has been any improvement or worsening.”
SOME SKIN-CARE SUGGESTIONS TO LESSEN THE RISK OF BEDSORES
Dr. Anvar suggests restricting baths to not more than three times a week for no more lasting than five minutes. He suggests to keep the water temperature warm and add bath oil as well. He also recommends to not use washcloths as they can bust down the skin. He apprises not to not towel dry using speedy movements. Dr. Anvar further adds, “Instead, softly pat dry and apply moisturizer immediately after bathing and reapply four times each day.”
BE CONSCIOUS OF DAILY RISKS
According to Dr. Anvar, there are several other risks of bedsores as well, besides bathing, that caretakers should be conscious of. He says, “Improper lifting and turning are two of the most common causes of skin tears, which lead to pressure injuries. You can avoid them by using sheets to help shift the body’s position.” Moreover, he declares that skin-on-skin touch also brings agonizing pain. He adds, “Making sure the elderly or infirmed person wears long sleeves and stockings can reduce such incidents.”
HOW TO REACT TO A BEDSORE WOUND
Do not use hydrogen peroxide or Dakin’s solution, if a wound develops. Because these products destroy healthy tissue and prevent the process of healing. Dr. Anvar urges to use normal saline instead, to clean the wounds, measure wounds weekly to notice the progress, use decent approved bandages, and examine the wounds every day. He says, “Make sure wounds are not covered with stool or moisture.” He further continues, “Make sure that patients are regularly eating nutritionally sound meals. Also, limit their stationary time, whether in lying in bed or sitting in a chair/wheelchair, to 30-minute intervals.”
WHEN TO GET MEDICAL ATTENTION FOR BEDSORES
Caretakers and home health care providers should be careful with observing any kind of change. Dr. Berry says, “Upon initial diagnosis, pictures should be taken. It is important to notify the agency nurse when the bedsore or ulcer has worsened.” She adds up more, “At that time, the nurse can order appropriate wound care consultation with the wound care department of an affiliated hospital. Most bedsores can be managed outpatient, including wound care consulting. However, when a person develops a fever or the bedsore develops an odor, the caregiver should notify the nurse as the patient might have worsened to the point of requiring hospital evaluation in the emergency department.”