Bed sores, also known as pressure ulcers, develop when there is too much pressure on the skin. This condition is more common in bedridden patients. These sores not only cause pain and discomfort, but may lead to infections, like meningitis, cellulitis and endocarditis, according to HealthLink BC. The shoulder blades, tailbone, elbows, heels and hips are the most common sites for bed sores because these areas contain little muscle and fat.
When the body doesn’t get any movement, it can hinder adequate blood flow to the skin, depriving it of nutrients and oxygen. If you are currently on bed rest, there are several things you can do to prevent bed sores.
When you change positions often, there will be less pressure on your skin, reducing your risk of developing pressure ulcers. It is a good idea to reposition your body at least every couple of hours. For example, if you have been lying on your back for a while, turn to your side. If you are unable to switch positions on your own, ask a family member or caregiver to help.
The cleaner and drier your skin is, the less likely it will develop bed sores. Dip a wash rag in a bucket of warm water and mild soap and clean your skin with it. You will likely need another person to help you clean the hard-to-reach spots. Then, pat your skin dry with a towel. If you rub too hard, it can lead to skin irritation.
Another effective way to prevent bed sores is to put pillows between parts of your body that press against each other. National Institutes of Health recommends placing a pillow under your tailbone, shoulders, heels and elbows. If you are lying on your side, it is better to put the pillow between your knees and ankles.
When you can’t even get out of bed, the idea of exercise seems daunting. However, performing a few range of motion exercises in bed can help reduce the risk of bed sores. For example, you can start with an arm lift. Just lift your arm up as high as you can and hold it there for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise on the other arm.