What is the fastest way to get rid of bedsores?
Bedsores are wounds that develop over several days or months due to prolonged pressure on the skin. The condition is most common in bedridden patients.
Bedsores are also known as
- Pressure sores
- Pressure ulcers
- Decubitus ulcers
- Pressure injuries
There is no single method that can help get rid of bedsores. The fastest way to get rid of existing bedsores and prevent the development of new ones involves a combination of a few or all of the following steps.
- Removing pressure on the affected area: Changing the sides/position frequently can help prevent persistent pressure on a single side. The patient should be encouraged to walk daily. If they are bedridden, a wheelchair can be used to move them around. They should avoid using doughnut cushions. Instead, using cushions or a special mattress will help relieve pressure.
- Keeping the wound clean: Cleaning the wound daily with sterile saline water and/or povidone-iodine solution helps prevent the development of bedsores.
- Performing debridement: Removing the infected or dead tissue is known as debridement. The doctor gently flushes the wound with sterile water and scrapes out the damaged tissue.
- Dressing the wound regularly: Covering the wound with medicated gauze or other special dressings acts as a barrier against infection.
- Following a healthy (nutritious) diet: Good nutrition involving a high-protein diet and lots of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables promotes rapid wound healing.
- Taking antibiotics: If the doctors spot the signs of infection (tenderness, pus discharge) in the wound, they will prescribe antibiotic pills to clear up the infection.
- Using negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT): The doctors use NPWT. This therapy uses a gentle vacuum pump to draw out fluid from the infected wound to help it heal.
- Using platelet-derived growth factors: Regranex (becaplermin) is a gel containing platelet-derived growth factors (substances extracted from the blood). It has benefitted some patients with diabetic ulcers. It may also help patients with bedsores. The medication must be applied as directed by the doctor.
- Undergoing concomitant treatment of an underlying problem: Diabetes, poor nutrition, anemia and fecal and/or urinary incontinence can contribute to non-healing bedsores. Hence, the doctor will also treat these conditions aggressively to promote the healing of bedsores.
- Using home remedies: The local application of the gel from aloe vera plant has shown promising results in the healing of wounds, including bedsores. A study has also shown its positive role in the prevention of bedsores if applied daily on the pressure points or areas that are most vulnerable to the development of bedsores.
- Using leech therapy (hirudotherapy): Leech therapy involves using small worms known as a leech to suck out the blood from problematic areas, such as non-healing, chronic wounds. The therapy is known as Jalaukavacharan (in Ayurveda) and has been used extensively and successfully for many decades by Ayurvedic practitioners. They use leech therapy mainly for treating various skin disorders as well as chronic or non-healing wounds (such as diabetic ulcers, varicose ulcers and bedsores) amongst many other conditions.
- Undergoing skin grafting: Skin grafting is a surgical procedure that involves removing healthy skin tissue and transferring it to the defective area of the skin. In the case of bedsores, skin grafting can be used for rapid healing or as extra protection (thick flap) in the bony areas of high-risk patients (such as patients with paralysis).
Before trying out any new cream, ointment or any alternative medicine, it is important to ask the doctor first.
What are the warning signs of bedsores?
Bedsores most often develop on skin that covers bony areas of the body. Hence, the patient’s heels, ankles, hips and tailbone should be inspected daily.
The following changes in the skin can help the patient’s relatives or caregivers identify bedsores early
- Abnormal changes in skin color or texture
- Painful to touch
- A relatively cooler or warmer area compared to other areas of the body
- Pus-like discharge
What are the complications of bedsores?
In the absence of proper treatment and care, pressure ulcers can go on to give rise to some complications that include
- Cellulitis (an infection of the skin and soft tissues)
- Bone and joint infections (can cause serious problems in movements of the affected joints)
- Cancer (squamous cell carcinoma, which is a cancer of the skin)
- Sepsis (a widespread infection that can lead to multi-organ damage)
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