Home Remedies For Bed Sores
Bed sores commonly known as pressure sores, skin ulcers, or decubitus are cuts, lesions, or swelling caused due to prolonged pressure on any part of the body and usually affect parts of the body over bony areas. Bed sores commonly occur among handicapped, disabled, paralyzed, or bedridden patients as they are unable to change their position frequently and continuous pressure on specific parts of the body leads to bed sores. Bed sores can be treated effectively if found early but can become a life-threatening disease as it cuts off blood circulation to parts of the body.
Bed sores commonly occur around the buttocks, heels, lower back, and hip bone area among bedridden individuals while the spine, ankles, knees, head, and shoulders are also susceptible to pressure sores depending on the fixed position of the patient. It is important to note that bedsores, if small and detected early can be treated by regular dressings while large or deep bedsores need plastic surgery techniques. Known to doctors as decubitus ulcers, bed sores (or pressure sores) are the result of skin being suffocated beneath the weight of the body. These lesions are caused by continuous extended pressure on the skin, usually in an area over a prominent bone or cartilage structure such as the hips or tailbone.
This pressure restricts the flow of blood, and therefore the supply of oxygen and nutrients, to that part of the skin. Ultimately, the smaller blood vessels clot, and a sore red patch of skin appears. If not attended to, it can crack open and develop into a painful wound.
The first sign of a developing pressure sore is reddening of the skin. There may be local swelling or hardening of the tissue as well. Eventually, if the pressure is not relieved, the skin breaks down and ulcerates, and infection may take hold. Obviously, people who are confined to bed for long periods are most at risk for this problem. Wheelchair users also have an increased risk of developing pressure sores.
An individual who suffers from impaired wound healing, common in older adults and people with diabetes, can develop bed sores rather quickly.
Based on the severity of the condition, bed sores go through four different stages and the symptoms seen during each stage vary.
- The skin remains intact, even in the initial stages
- In the case of lighter skin color, the skin appears darker and does not lighten briefly (blanch) when it is touched
- In the case of darker skin, no changes in the actual skin color, but the appearance of bluish or purple spots
- Pain, softness, tenderness, and change in temperature around the skin
- Ulcers or open wounds
- Loss or damage in the underlying layer of the dermis as well as the epidermis
- The appearance of pinkish, shallow, and basin-like wounds
- Ruptured fluid-filled blisters on the skin
- Development of deep wound at the site of the ulcer
- Skin loss, with exposure to fat
- Crater-like ulcers appear on the skin
- The appearance of slough or yellowish dead tissue at the bottom of the wound
- Spreading of the damage, beyond the primary area of the wound, to the layers of healthy skin
- Large-scale tissue loss at the site of the ulcer
- The appearance of slough or eschar, which is dark, crusty, and dead tissue at the bottom of the wound
- Exposed bone, muscle, or tendons at the site of the wound
Causes of Bed Sores
Bed sores have a single, simple cause: uninterrupted pressure (in excess of the capillary refill reflex) to the affected area. In some cases, irreversible damage may begin to occur after as little as two hours of unrelieved pressure.
Pressure sores do not occur in most people. Ever sat still so long in one position that when you finally moved you ached? The same process is involved in the formation of decubitus ulcers. Eventually, you did shift position; and for most people, even when they’re asleep, a complicated set of neuronal feedback mechanisms alert their bodies when it’s time to make a postural adjustment.
But people who are comatose, paralyzed, sedated, restrained, or otherwise unable to move volitionally cannot move on their own. This is the population at risk for developing bed sores. For someone who cannot move, something as simple as a wrinkle in a bed sheet can begin the process of skin breakdown.
When it comes to bed sores, prevention is better than treatment. It is also necessary to rule out the possibility that another disorder might be mimicking bedsore, especially if the sore appears to be spreading at an unusually fast rate. Herpes lesions, bacterially induced ulcers, and even skin cancers can look like bed sores but require different treatments.
Bed Sore Prevention Tips
Bed sores are a classic example of the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure: in the vast majority of cases, bed sores can be prevented by the simple expedients of frequent position shifts and a thorough, routine, daily inspection of the skin to identify potential trouble spots. If incontinence is a factor, skin barriers like the new, polymer-based protective films should be used in addition to absorbent padding to protect the skin. Improved hydration will make skin less friable, while better nutrition (particularly through foods rich in protein, zinc, and Vitamin C) will lead to an increase in the body’s ability to heal itself should a breakdown occur.
Home Remedies For Bed Sores
- Cleaning the Wound: A wound that has not been cleaned properly is prone to infections and inflammation. You could use some fresh water, with mild soap to treat the bed sores. In case of open sores, you need to use salt water (saline solution) to clean the wound a couple of times a day.
- Dressing the Wound: You can expedite the healing process by keeping the wound moist and dressing it appropriately. A proper dressing protects the wounds from infections too and keeps the surrounding area dry. There is a huge variety of dressings that you can opt for, like gauze, gel foams, treated bandages, and films. At times, you may be advised to use a combination of dressings for the best results.
- Exercising: This may be a huge challenge for those who are confined to a bed or a wheelchair. However, there are many exercise disciplines that are planned and crafted, keeping in mind the specific needs and capabilities of the patient.
- Practicing Healthy Habits: There are some habits, like smoking, that affect the circulation of blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the skin. Therefore, in order to avoid bed sores, it is best to quit such unhealthy habits.
- Protecting Bony Areas: In order to expedite the healing process, it is important to use some sort of cushioning on the bony area. A soft mattress or an air mattress can help prevent and heal bed sores faster.
- Vitamin C is an anti-inflammatory and is vital for the health of the skin and blood vessels. A study reported in the British Medical Journal found that bedridden patients with bedsores had significantly lower levels of vitamin C in their blood than did similar patients who were free of bedsores. Take 500 milligrams of vitamin C and an equal amount of bioflavonoids three times daily.
- supports the immune system and promotes wound healing. Take 15 milligrams three times daily. Take zinc with food to prevent stomach upset. If you take over 30 milligrams of zinc on a daily basis for more than one or two months, you should also take 1 to 2 milligrams of copper each day to maintain a proper mineral balance.
Herbal treatment for bed sores
There are certain herbs that can be applied directly to the wound, to help them heal faster. Some of the most widely recommended herbs for this purpose include witch hazel, goldenseal, turmeric root, myrrh, and comfrey. The following suggestions should be used only if the wound is closed. Open wounds should be attended to by a healthcare practitioner.
- Aloe Vera applied topically in ointment, gel, or cream form, is effective in healing sores.
- Topical calendula cream is very soothing and healing to wounds. Use it as directed on the product label.
- Goldenseal is a natural antiseptic; vitamin E is healing and soothing to the skin. Make a paste by combining the contents of three 500-milligram capsules of goldenseal (or 1 teaspoon of goldenseal powder) and 800 international units of vitamin E (pierce capsules and squeeze out the oil). If the resulting mixture is too dry, add a few drops of olive oil. Apply this to the affected area three times daily.
Author: Dr Izharul Hasan