Bed sores are most common amongst those who are bedridden, such as hospital patients and those living in nursing homes.
Bed sores start as a painful and swollen red patch of skin, on any part of the body which is subject to pressure for an extended period of time and may quickly progress to form a slow-healing and painful, raw, open sore. The most commonly affected areas are the heels, ankles, knees, base of the spine, buttocks, hips, elbows and shoulders.
Bed sores are caused by the loss of blood supply to the skin due to continuous pressure on the affected parts. Bed sores can easily become infected if the skin is left damp. The people most prone to bed sores are those with diabetes, who are underweight, overweight, paralysed, and those people with poor circulation and heart problems.
The normal treatment for bed sores is to clean the wound, remove any dead skin, and cover the area with a dressing that does not stick to the damaged skin. Comfrey ointment and Aloe vera gel promote healing, and can be beneficial. Dilute tea tree oil may be used as an infection-fighting rinse.
Zinc is a nutrient that is commonly deficient, especially in the elderly and may be of assistance in the treatment of slow healing wounds; vitamin C may also be helpful
Ginkgo may be of assistance to improve blood circulation to the area (NOTE: Ginkgo should not be taken by those using warfarin or other anticoagulant or cardiovascular medication, except under medical supervision)
The patient should be moved often, at least every two hours. Cushioning will help to relieve pressure and allow the Bed sores to heal.
Massaging the areas of pressure contact can help, however be careful not to rub broken skin, and remember that the skin of invalids can tear and bruise very easily.
Care always needs to be taken when caring for the elderly or invalids at home. Make sure the person confined to bed or a wheelchair moves his body as often as possible when awake.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and seeds is recommended to provide sufficient nutrients for healthy skin and circulation. Patients who have been ill for a long time or who have poor diets should use a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.
Moisturiser should be used to keep the skin supple.
Ensure that both the patient and their bedding are clean and dry.
A soft material such as sheepskin can be placed under pressure points to help lessen the likelihood of Bed sores developing.
Consult your healthcare professional if the sore produces a discharge or pus.