Pressure injuries, also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers, can arise when an individual is sitting or lying in the same position for a long time without moving. This reduced mobility causes the skin over bony areas to become damaged due to lack of blood flow. These painful wounds can grow over time and lead to possible infections that require medical attention. According to the National Pressure Injury Advisory Panel, around 2.5 million people in the U.S. develop pressure injuries annually.
As a caregiver, it’s a huge responsibility to make sure the patient is getting the proper care they need. One aspect of this is preventing pressure injuries due to immobility. By implementing the proper strategies and providing attentive care to your patient, you will support their overall wellbeing and help prevent any unnecessary pain and complications caused by pressure injuries. Some ways to reduce the risk of developing pressure injuries include:
- Reposition the patient: It’s necessary to reposition the patient often to relieve pressure on the skin and redistribute pressure on weight-bearing areas. The frequency of repositioning varies depending on the individual’s condition and their level of mobility. Bedridden patients should be repositioned every two hours.
- Use support surfaces: Pressure relieving surfaces like gel mattresses and cushions are also a good way to redistribute pressure, as well as providing support to the position the patient is in. Extra padding protects vulnerable bony areas like the heels, elbows, head, etc. Some ways to use these surfaces are by putting pillows underneath the arms or between the knees and the bed.
- Establish a skin care routine: Having a proper skin care regimen is crucial to preventing pressure injuries. The patient’s skin should be kept clean and dry. Use moisturizers to prevent extreme dryness or cracking. It’s also important to monitor the patients’ skin daily and look for any warning signs of sores.
- Manage excess moisture: While the patient should have moisturized skin, too much exposure to moisture is not beneficial. Use barrier creams such as Destin, A + D Ointment and moisture absorbing products for issues relating to excess sweat and incontinence, such as a possible infection and skin breakdown.
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle: To maintain healthy skin, patients must get the proper nutrients they need. This means providing them with a balanced diet and making sure they drink enough fluids.
While these tips can help increase a patient’s quality of life and lower the risk of pressure injuries, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has different needs and circumstances that should be taken into consideration for their proper care.
Wound Care specialist Michael Petersen, MD says, “Pressure injuries remain a major problem in the United States and around the world. They are frequently seen at our wound center and often require months of care and surgical interventions to heal them. In many cases, they are complications from medical illnesses or surgery, but they are often preventable. Awareness of the potential, identifying those at increased risk, and taking preventative measures as outlined is of paramount importance.”