Relieving and spreading out
pressure is the most important part of preventing and treating pressure sores.
When pressure is in one spot for long periods of time, the blood flow to that
area is decreased. This damages or kills the cells, and creates a sore.
Pressure can be relieved and spread in several ways. Often a combination of
these is best. To relieve and spread pressure:
special support surfaces. There are mattresses, bed
covers, and chair cushions designed to help reduce and spread pressure. Other
products, such as doughnut-type devices, may actually cause pressure sores. So
talk with your doctor about the support surfaces and pressure-relieving
products that would be best for you.
Change positions at least every 2 hours if you are confined to
a bed, or as often as every 15 minutes if you are in a wheelchair. A person who
can't easily move themselves or who does not have normal feeling in their body
or mental awareness to tell them when to change positions is at risk of
pressure sores. These people need a regular schedule for position changes and
usually need help being turned or repositioned.
slipping, or slumping, or being in positions that put pressure directly on an existing
pressure sore. Try to keep the head of a bed, a recliner chair, or a reclining wheelchair raised no more than 30 degrees. Recliner chairs are likely to allow slipping. They should not be used in place of a bed.
the person's skin from head to toe daily, or as often as your doctor
recommends. Watch for pressure from many sources, such as:
Body parts or skin folds, especially in
people who are overweight or obese. For example, the knees or ankles of a
person who spends long periods in bed can rub together and cause sores. Work
with your doctor to be sure there is either no pressure or that there is good
padding between the skin and other surfaces.
Chair arms, parts of
wheelchairs, braces, or other places where people may rest their elbows or
other body parts.
Oxygen masks or oxygen tubing. Tubing or straps
that rest on the nose or ears may cause pressure injuries.