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Tips to Prevent Pressure Ulcers

Preventing pressure ulcers is one of the caregiver responsibilities that requires the most vigilance. Always bring any concerning areas to the attention of your physician or healthcare provider. The following tips may help you prevent pressure ulcers: 
  • Inspect the skin at least once a day. A mirror can help when looking at hard-to-see areas. Pay special attention to any reddened areas that remain after your loved one has changed positions and the pressure has been relieved. Also, pay special attention to pressure points. A lasting area of redness could mean that there is already significant damage beneath the surface of the skin. If so, ask your physician or the nurse. The goal is to find and correct problems before pressure ulcers form.
  • Keep the skin clean and dry and use a moisturizer like Vitamin A and D ointment.
  • Change the position of the patient every two hours if they are lying in bed and at least every hour if sitting in a chair.
  • Reduce friction (rubbing) by making sure you lift when repositioning rather than dragging. The friction caused by dragging the body against the bed sheets or chair upholstery can rub off the top layer of skin and damage blood vessels under the skin. A good home remedy: a thin film of cornstarch can be used on the skin to help reduce damage from friction.
  • People in wheelchairs sometimes think that a ring cushion will prevent pressure ulcers, but this is a myth. Donut-shaped cushions can actually increase your risk of getting a pressure ulcer by reducing blood flow and causing tissue to swell.
  • Speak to the physician about ordering a special pressure-relief mattress. Please note:This expense is often covered under Medicare Part B.
  • Place pillows or wedges between the legs to keep knees or ankles from touching each other.
  • If a patient is completely immobile, pillows should be put under the legs from mid-calf to ankle to keep heels off the bed. Never place pillows behind the knee.
  • Lastly, make certain that the patient is getting enough protein in the diet. This is crucial in maintaining skin integrity and facilitating the healing process.

Information provided by National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Alternating pressure mattress / low air loss mattress for prevention / treatment of pressure sores.

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