Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are painful and potentially serious skin wounds that develop when prolonged pressure is applied to the skin. They primarily affect individuals who are bedridden or have limited mobility, causing great discomfort and posing health risks.

Fortunately, with the right knowledge and preventive measures, bed sores can be avoided. In this blog post, let us explore practical tips and strategies to help you or your loved ones prevent bed sores and maintain optimal comfort.

Tips on How to Prevent Bed Sores

1. Frequent Repositioning

Frequent repositioning is crucial when it comes to preventing bed sores. The goal is to relieve pressure on specific areas of the body that are prone to developing bed sores.

To do this, create a schedule for repositioning, keeping in mind that it is recommended to change positions at least every two hours. This schedule will help you stay organized and ensure that repositioning becomes a routine part of daily care.

When changing positions, do it gradually and systematically. Start by adjusting the upper body, then the lower body, and finally the positioning of the limbs. This approach minimizes abrupt movements that can cause friction or shear forces.

2. Maintain Good Hygiene

Maintaining good skin hygiene is essential in preventing bed sores and can be done by keeping the skin clean and healthy, thereby reducing the risk of infections and promoting skin integrity.

Focus on cleaning and caring for the areas of the body that are prone to developing bed sores, such as the buttocks, heels, elbows, and shoulder blades. Thoroughly cleanse these areas, making sure to remove any sweat, urine, or fecal matter that may accumulate.

Use a mild, pH-balanced cleanser and lukewarm water to wash the skin. Avoid using harsh soaps or scrubbing vigorously, as this can damage the skin. Pat the skin dry with a soft towel after washing, ensuring you are gentle and avoid rubbing.

Dry skin is more susceptible to damage and can increase the risk of bed sores. After washing, apply a gentle, non-irritating moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated. Look for moisturizers that are specifically designed for sensitive or compromised skin. Avoid applying excessive moisturizer, as it can create excess moisture, leading to skin maceration.

3. Optimize Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nourishment supports the body's ability to heal and maintain the integrity of the skin which is why optimizing nutrition and hydration is vital for preventing bed sores. Focus on consuming a variety of nutrient-rich foods. Include lean proteins (such as poultry, fish, beans, and tofu) to support tissue repair and growth.

Nutritious Food

Incorporate fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aim for a balanced plate that includes carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber.

Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Hydration is essential for maintaining skin elasticity and preventing dryness. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary beverages, as they can lead to dehydration and negatively impact overall health. If you have difficulty drinking large amounts of water, consider consuming hydrating foods such as watermelon, cucumbers, and soups.

In some cases, nutritional supplements may be recommended, especially if you have specific dietary restrictions or medical conditions that affect nutrient absorption. Speak with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine if supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or specialized nutritional formulas are necessary for you.

4. Use Supportive Cushions and Mattresses

Utilizing supportive cushions and mattresses is an effective strategy for preventing bed sores as these specialized products are designed to distribute pressure evenly and reduce the risk of skin breakdown.

Invest in pressure-reducing cushions that are specifically designed to alleviate pressure on vulnerable areas of the body. These cushions are often made of foam, gel, or air-filled materials. They work by distributing pressure across a larger surface area, minimizing the risk of prolonged pressure on any one spot.

Obbomed OB-3682B UltraAir

Choose a mattress that offers optimal support and pressure relief. Look for mattresses that are labeled as "pressure-relieving," "orthopedic," or "medical-grade" such as the Obbomed OB-3682B UltraAir. These mattresses are designed to provide appropriate support and reduce pressure points. Memory foam mattresses and air mattresses with adjustable firmness can be particularly beneficial.

Regularly inspect and clean supportive cushions and mattresses to maintain their effectiveness. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for cleaning and maintenance. Pay attention to any signs of wear and tear and replace them when necessary to ensure optimal support and pressure relief.

5. Maintain an Active Lifestyle

Regular physical activity promotes blood circulation, muscle strength, and overall well-being which makes it an important aspect when it comes to preventing bed sores. Before starting any exercise program, however, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist as they can provide guidance based on your specific condition, mobility level, and any potential limitations.

Explore adaptive sports and activities that cater to individuals with limited mobility. These activities provide opportunities for social engagement, physical exercise, and enjoyment. Examples include wheelchair basketball, seated yoga, or adaptive swimming.

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine and make it a habit. Set specific goals and establish a consistent exercise schedule. Engage in activities that you enjoy to enhance motivation and adherence.

Remember that it is essential to listen to your body and not push yourself beyond your capabilities. Start slowly and gradually increase intensity and duration as your strength and endurance improve.

6. Educate and Involve Caregivers

If you have caregivers assisting with your care, it is essential to educate them about the prevention of bed sores. Train them on proper techniques for repositioning, maintaining skin hygiene, and using assistive devices. Regular communication and collaboration with caregivers will help ensure consistency in implementing preventive measures.

7. Monitor and Seek Medical Attention

Despite best efforts, if you notice any signs of skin redness, discoloration, or non-blanchable areas, seek medical attention immediately. Early intervention can prevent the progression of bed sores and facilitate faster healing. Timely medical advice is especially crucial if you have an underlying health condition that may impair healing or if the bed sores show signs of infection.

Old person in bed

Final Thoughts

Preventing bed sores requires a proactive approach involving regular repositioning, good skin hygiene, proper nutrition, and the use of supportive equipment.

By incorporating these strategies on how to prevent bed sores into your daily routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing bed sores and promote overall comfort and well-being.