Preventing Bedsores

Bedsores, or pressure ulcers, are preventable.

What is a bedsore? A pressure ulcer, sometimes called a “bedsore,” is an injury caused by unrelieved pressure on a specific area of the skin. Pressure ulcers begin as reddened areas, and without proper circulation and nutrition they can develop into damaged skin and tissue. Pressure ulcers most commonly occur on bony parts of the body that sustain pressure when a person sits or lies for long periods of time. When pressure squeezes the blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen to the skin, the skin begins “starving” to death.

What factors increase the risk for pressure ulcers? – Inability to change positions – Loss of bowel or bladder control – Poor nutrition or dehydration – Lowered mental awareness

How can I prevent pressure ulcers?

  • Limit Pressure If you are in bed, change your position at least every two hours. If you are in a chair or wheelchair, change your position frequently. If you are able to shift your own weight, do so every 15 minutes while sitting.
  • Reduce Friction When shifting position or moving in your bed, lift yourself across the sheets.
  • Avoid repetitive movements such as rubbing your foot on the sheets to scratch an itchy spot.
  • Avoid hard surfaces They can actually cause injury to the skin.
  • Love your skin Allow a member of your healthcare team to inspect your skin when requested. If you notice any abnormal areas, notify your nurse as soon as possible. Clean your skin thoroughly as soon as possible if soiling occurs. Prevent dry skin by using moisturizing creams, but don’t rub or massage the skin over bony parts of your body.

If you are confined to bed for long periods of time: Try to keep the head of your bed as low as possible (unless other medical conditions do not permit it). If you need to raise the head of the bed for certain activities, raise it to the lowest point possible for as short a time as possible. This can help reduce pressure points.

Use pillows or foam wedges to keep your knees or ankles from touching each other. Pillows can also be placed under your legs from mid-calf to ankle to “float” your heels and keep them off the bed.

Avoid lying directly on your hip bone when lying on your side. Choose a position that spreads weight and pressure more evenly if possible.

Providence wants to work with you to maintain and even improve your health. We provide this information to equip you with the knowledge you need to make good health decisions.

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