Unfortunately, even when we’re confined to our beds, we can still face complications that can cause more discomfort and hinder our healing.
This is especially true as we age and our skin becomes thinner and less elastic making us more susceptible to developing pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. Pressure ulcers form when we sit or lie in the same position for too long, cutting off circulation to our skin. The pressure from our body weight can damage the skin and the underlying tissues, eventually leading to an open wound.
Hospital patients, people who are immobile due to injury or medical conditions, and frail older adults are especially vulnerable. Pressure sores are painful, often difficult to treat, and can lead to even more serious complications such as infection, gangrene, and even death. They’re a major burden for patients, their families, and healthcare providers.
How do we prevent bed sores?
It is much better to prevent pressure sores than to treat them. It is essential that the health care teams and family members looking after you, assess your risk of developing pressure sores and create a plan to prevent them.
The following tips can help to prevent pressure sores:
- Relieving direct pressure
- change position and keep moving as much as possible
- stand up to relieve pressure if you can
- ask your carer to reposition you regularly if you can’t move
change position at least every 2 hours
- use special pressure relieving mattresses and cushions
- don’t drag your heels or elbows when moving in your bed or chair
- keep your skin clean and dry
- avoid scented soaps as they can be more drying
- moisturise your skin thoroughly after washing
- avoid using talcum powder as this dries the skins natural oils
keep your skin well moisturised
- make sure the bedsheets are smooth and not wrinkled when you are lying in bed
- sheets should be cotton or silk like fabric
- eat a well balanced diet
- have at least 2 litres of fluid a day
- tell your doctor or nurse if you notice any skin changes or discomfort as soon as possible
An important solution to preventing pressure sores is reducing pressure on the body through various means.
A recent comprehensive review looked at 59 different studies in order to find out which products and strategies are most effective in preventing pressure sores. The strategies focused on relieving pressure by cushioning the bonier parts of the body, such as heels, knees, hips, and tailbone, or by redistributing body weight. “Low-tech” options included mattresses with enhanced features, such as higher density foam and special fillings (gel, air, water or beads). The researchers also tested the benefits of mattress covers, overlays (e.g. medical grade sheepskin), and specially designed cushions (e.g. limb protectors, and wheelchair cushions).
What the research on bed sore prevention found
There is some good news: lower-tech, lower-cost solutions do help. The evidence shows that mattresses made with higher-density foam can prevent pressure sores from developing or worsening. People who use these types of mattresses are less likely to develop pressure sores than people who lie on standard foam mattresses, which are found in many homes and hospitals. Sheepskin overlays also help lower the likelihood of pressure sores.
How Pressure Mattresses can help prevent bed sores
Pressure care mattresses are designed to evenly distribute weight and pressure over a larger surface area, thus preventing the formation of pressure ulcers. They are designed to provide a “reactive surface” which means they contain multiple layers of special foam that respond to a person’s body heat, shape, and movement. Pressure can also be relieved using pockets of air in the foam layers.
Choosing the right Medical Mattress
Pressure Care or Medical Mattresses are often used in hospitals and nursing homes, but can also be used in the home. If you or a loved one is at risk for developing pressure ulcers, a pressure care mattress may be the best way to prevent them
There are many different types of pressure care mattresses, so it’s important to choose one that’s right for you or your loved one. We recommend talking to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any changes to your current care routine.
We’re here to help
The friendly and highly experienced team at Interquip Healthcare is always ready to offer advice on which Pressure Care mattress would best suit your needs.
We have an extensive range of Australian made medical mattresses that have an industry leading blend of patient care, comfort and longevity. Each of our mattresses provides gentle pressure dispersion and redistribution through unique foam technology, together with foundational and structural support. These features allow for safer patient transfer and repositioning.
We believe that our product range represents the most advanced, high performance static support surface available on today’s medical mattress market, so make sure you check out our range online before you choose your pressure mattress. We can even customise to suit any additional requirements you may have for your current bed.