Preventing and Treating Pressure Sores

Pressure ulcer treatment can take several months to heal fully, particularly for higher grade sores or ulcers. Once a patient has had pressure ulcers, they also become more susceptible to repeat ulcer episodes, particularly if they are confined to bed or use a wheelchair on a regular basis. 

There are ways to help prevent, or at least minimize, the risk of further pressure sores. This is important, as pressure sores in certain areas can cause more problems, like pressure sores in the ears can result in hearing loss. Choosing a hearing aid will be important here, as well as getting professional advice, but prevention is always preferable. 

The main way to prevent further pressure sores and wounds is to change positions regularly. It is recommended that a wheelchair user should change their position once every 15 to 30 minutes to avoid needing pressure sores treatment. If you are confined to bed, then your position should be changed at intervals no longer than every two hours. Good nutrition is also important to ulcer prevention; and a balanced diet needs to contain a good level of protein, as well as a variety of minerals and vitamins. This can be difficult if you have a pre-existing health condition, but eating small regular meals, or having pureed foods or soups made if you have difficulty swallowing, can help. 

It is also important to check your skin regularly, especially in high-risk areas. If you are on your own, you may find that using a mirror is helpful with harder-to-reach areas. Alternatively, ask a partner or carer to check areas that you cannot easily see. Applying wound care early can stop pressure sores from developing further and causing additional problems. Health care professionals also recommend that you stop smoking as it weakens the immune system and reduces oxygen levels in the blood.

Treatment For Pressure Sores, From Preventive Positions To Maggot Therapy

Treatment for pressure sores is dependent on a number of factors including the grading of the sore or ulcer. The grading system, based on the severity of the symptoms and the appearance of the affected area, ranges from one to four; similarly, treatment ranges from prevention to potential surgery.

Caught early, particularly while still at stage one, pressure sores treatment takes the form of mainly preventative actions. The position that you sit or lie in may be altered more frequently, particularly away from the affected site. Additionally, specialized cushions and mattresses may be used to take the pressure off those affected areas and to improve airflow, thus minimizing dampness on the skin. Where required, wound care may include the use of special dressings that encourage the growth of new cells and keep surrounding skin dry and healthy. Certain ointments and creams can be used in conjunction with dressings to the same end. 

Where there is already evidence of infection, the patient may be started on antibiotics. Where there is infection, there is often also necrotic skin and tissue. This is dealt with through debridement, which can happen in a number of ways. Usually, the dead skin is cut away. Ultrasound and laser removal may also be used, alongside pressure irrigation. However, one historical debridement technique that is making a comeback is the use of maggots, otherwise known as larval therapy. This form of therapy is beneficial, not just because the sterile maggots eat the dead tissue and skin, but also because the enzymes they produce to aid in the healing process.

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