Information on preventing bed sores

Bed sores (pressure sores) are caused by pressure-typically prolonged and over bony parts of the body in people who are restricted to a bed or chair. The pressure cuts off the blood supply; without blood’s oxygen and nutrients, skin tissue starts to die.

Bed sores start with skin redness or a blister, but can progress to a deep wound that damages muscles, tendons, and bone. Following are ways to prevent bed sores:

  • Change position in bed at least every two hours. In a wheelchair, change position at least hourly.
  • If you’re able to move yourself, shift position every 15 minutes.
  • Do not lift the head of your bed greater than 30 degrees to prevent sliding and friction.
  • Find a sitting or lying position that is 30 degrees toward one side of your body or the other, not squarely on the hip.
  • Place a pillow under calves to keep your heels off the mattress. Place a pillow between the knees. Do not use donut-ring cushions, which can cut off circulation. Use a special bed mattress or wheelchair cushion.
  • Wear special pads to protect skin that rests against braces and other devices.
  • When moving someone, lift rather than drag. Use assistive devices, such as transfer boards and mechanical lifts. Try placing a sheepskin under a body part to decrease friction.
  • Keep the skin clean and dry. Do not massage bony areas.
  • If incontinent, use a protective cream on skin that may come in contact with urine or feces. Do not let feces or urine remain in contact with skin for extended periods of time.
  • Check skin at least daily for signs of pressure problems. Keep sheets clean and free of wrinkles.
  • Maintain good nutrition.

Recognizing Pressure Sores

Pressure sores are classified in four stages. Cabot P.O.L. CREAM can be effective to help prevent the development of stage one and stage two pressure sores.

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Pressure ulcers are serious medical conditions that require treatment from a health care professional.

Seek professional medical advice right away for any open sores, infections, or chronic conditions. This information is for general knowledge and is not intended to replace medical care.

Source: National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus