Care Guides for Caregivers

Caring for Pressure Areas on the Body

Post on 03/07/16

A patient who is confined to the bed or a wheelchair is at great risk of developing sores. Once a pressure sore develops, it is difficult to heal. 

Hence, it is important that measures be taken to prevent pressure sores from developing.

Pressure Sores

Causes of pressure sores

  • Lying or sitting in the same position for a long time
  • Creases in the bedsheet
  • Friction when the patient is dragged and not lifted or turned in the correct way
  • Poor blood circulation 

Warning signs

  • Redness
  • Blister formation
  • Skin breakdown into a sore
  • Sometimes the skin turns purple and a thick black scab forms

Preventing pressure sores

  • Find out and remove the cause of the damage to the skin
  • Turn patient at least every two hourly
  • Select appropriate support surfaces. An alternating air support mattress would be more appropriate for patients who are unable to move by themselves e.g. Alfa-Excel or Nimbus Mattress. Ripple or Spenco mattress would be more appropriate for patients who can turn on their own
  • Keep the skin clean and dry at all times. Always have another cloth or sheet beneath the patient to absorb sweat. Do not use diapers. Change the patient when required
  • Do not use powder. When wet, powder forms lumps that damage the skin
  • Use non-perfumed moisturising cream, barrier cream or baby lotion for massaging the skin
  • Do not massage the reddened area. Use a circular motion, starting around the reddened area, and moving outward in ever-widening circles
  • Do not drag the patient.; lift him carefully to prevent friction 
  • Do not place very hot or very cold items on the skin
  • If there is swelling in the paralysed limbs, use a cream and massage gently, starting from the hands and feet and massaging towards the body
  • Position the patient properly

First aid for skin redness

  • Apply hydrocolloid dressing to the reddened area, changing regularly as necessary
  • If a blister is present, do not prick or burst it; apply a transparent dressing over the area. These dressings are available in the pharmacies

Once sores develop, seek advice from your doctor or nurse or call the agency providing home nursing services.

In Summary

  • A stroke patient who is confined to the bed or a wheelchair is at risk of developing pressure sores
  • Measures must be taken to prevent these from developing

 

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