What Are Bed Sores ?
Bed sores are the wounds that appear on the skin and tissues which are developed due to long time pressure on the skin. The skin that covers bony areas of the body, such as hips, ankles, heels and tailbone are more prone to develop bed sores. Bed sores are also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcer. Bed sores are mostly found in the people who are setting or laying in one position for a long time, such as paralyzed people, bed ridden people, or old age people. Paralyzed or ill people mostly spend their time on bed as their medical condition limit their capability to walk or even change position and force them to spend their time on bed or chair.
Generally, People at risk of bedsores are those who spend most of their time in a bed or chair. Bed sores may develop speedily but can heal with the treatment. It is important to take early treatment otherwise it may lead to severe condition. Bed sores are formed in patients of all ages who are destined to bed with no physical movement. It can attack even children and adults, irrespective of their age.
Bed Sores Causes
The main cause of the bed sores is a pressure against the skin that permits the blood flow to the skin. Other factor that associated with bed sores is limited mobility. The causes of developing bed sores are
- Pressure – Constant pressure on any part of the body can develop bed sores as it lowers the flow of the blood to tissues. Blood flow is important to transport oxygen and other nutrients to tissues as these are important to make tissues alive and healthy. Without theses, the skin cells and nearby tissues will destroy and die.
- Friction – It is occurred when the skin brushes continuously with bedding or clothing. Friction can make soft skin more vulnerable to injury.
- Shear – The condition of shear may occur when two surfaces move in the opposite direction, such as sliding position on bed while bed ridden. In this condition, minute blood vessels and cell walls may stretch and tear.
The injured tissues then further develop an infection that can lead to a serious illness.
Bed Sores Symptoms
Symptoms of bed sores are
- Sudden changes in the skin color and texture
- Pus like formation
- Feeling of warmness or coolness to the touch in specific skin area
- Tender areas
The symptoms can vary from red, unbroken skin to a deep injury in bone and muscles.
The occurrence of sores on the specific skin portion is the signs of bed sores, these include
- Hip, lower Back, or tailbone
- Shoulder blades and spine
- Heels, ankles and skin behind the knees
- Sides or back of the head
Bed Sores Stages
The stages of bed sores include
Stage 1 – The mildest stage of bed sores. It generally affects the upper layer of the skin. The symptoms of this stage include burning, pain, or itching of the skin.
Stage 2 – The second stage develops a little deeper bed sores. Symptoms of this stage include broken skin and impression of pus-filled blister.
Stage 3 – In the third stage, the bed sores enter into the second layer of the skin and reach fat tissues. Now, these sores release a bad odor and look like craters.
Stage 4 – The most serious stage of bed sores that highly affects body’s ligaments and muscles. This stage include big and deep sores, stained skin color and sometimes muscles, bones, and tendons may visible.
Read : Canker Sore
The risk factors associated with bed sores are
- Immobility – Due to spinal cord injury, poor health or old age
- Lack Of Sensory Perception – Neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, and other condition that develop sensation loss
- Poor Nutrition and Hydration – A healthy skin needs a good level of fluid, protein, vitamins, and minerals intake. This also prevents the breakdown of the tissues.
- Medical Conditions That Affect Blood Flow – Conditions, such as diabetes, vascular disease increase the risk of tissue damage
- Cellulitis– It is the skin and associated soft tissues infection. It can cause redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected area. People having nerve disorder generally do not feel pain in the cellulitis affected area.
- Bone and Joint Infections – Bed sores can further develops a hole into joints and bones. Joint infections can destroy tissue and cartilage. Bone infection can lower the joints and limbs functions.
- Cancer – Non-healing, long term lesions can develop cancer in many cases.
- Sepsis -A skin ulcer can develop sepsis in the skin.
Doctors carefully examine the skin and diagnose the severity of bed sores by considering its size and stage. The doctors usually diagnose the bed sores through their level of stage.
- In stage1, the skin looks red and never turns white when touching.
- In stage 2, the skin looks red, sore and some skin have been rubbed away.
- In stage 3, all the layers of the skin got infection.
- In stage 4, it is the most advanced and difficult stage. The infection has spread all over the skin and below the skin to the bone and muscles. A deep crater is also developed on the skin surface.
It is recommended to consult a doctor when saw early sign of bed sores.
Bed Sores Treatment
Treating bed sores is not an easy task. Simple bed sores can heal within few weeks of treatment, but severe sores may need surgery. The treatment process of simple sores include
- Removing the pressure by moving pillows or foam pads
- Clean the wound by gently washing the wounds with water and a mild soap
- Control incontinence
- Removal of dead tissue
- Dressing of the wounds
- Use of antibiotic creams or antibiotics
1. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy
Negative pressure wound therapy or vacuum assisted therapy is a procedure that includes the attachment of a suction tube to the bed sore. The tube provides moisture to the sore and improves the healing time and reducing the infection risk. By using this technique, wounds can heal within the 6 weeks.
The aim of the surgery is to clean the sore, reduce fluid loss, prevent or treat infection, and lower the risk of complications.
Natural Home Remedies
Natural home remedies for bed sores include
- Coconut oil
- Gel pads
- Aloe Vera
- Essential oils
- Rubbing alcohol
- Egg white
- Olive oil
- Vitamin C
- Petroleum jelly
- Saline water
- Epson salt
- Milk of magnesia
Bed sores can be prevented by repositioning the person to avoid pressure on the skin. The other preventative measures may include
- Good care of the skin
- Keep skin dry and clean
- Apply lotion to the dry skin
- Maintaining good nutrition requirements and fluid intake
- Avoid smoking
- Managing stress
- Shift weight frequently while bed ridden
- Always select cushion or a mattress that releases pressure
It is hard to prevent bed sores among vulnerable patients, even after excellent medical and nursing care. It is also recommended to use most appropriate position to avoid bed sores.
Generally, people with bed sores might experience pain, discomfort, depression, or isolation. It is good to talk openly with the care team to get support and comfort for your needs. A community group is also helpful to get services, support and education to the people dealing with long term illness or stressful health conditions.