Skin sores and ulcers or bedsores are uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening complications that many nursing home residents experience. These skin ulcers arise from repeated friction or pressure on any portion of the body that compromises the skin. These are some common causes of bedsores and ways to prevent them.
Bedsores are a common complication of paralysis and dementia. Individuals with these conditions cannot reposition themselves and remain in the same position for extended periods. Caretakers must constantly adjust patients who cannot move on their own. Pressure-relieving cushions or mattresses also provide ample cushioning from excessive pressure.
Malnutrition can be difficult to combat in individuals that suffer from conditions that make eating a challenge. Individuals who can not swallow or taste may not consume adequate nutrients and liquids necessary to maintain crucial body functions and healthy organs, including the skin. Poorly nourished skin is more susceptible to bacteria and environmental strains that can lead to its break down. Nourishment and fluids provided via feeding tubes may solve this problem.
Patients with paralysis or dementia may be incontinent and unable to experience the effects this has on the skin. If skin ulcers come in contact with contaminants that remain, they can worsen and lead to deeper infection levels. Excessive sustained moisture can also contribute to weakened skin. Caretakers of incontinent individuals must frequently check bedsores for exposure to elimination contaminants and make diligent efforts to keep the skin and any clothes and linens dry and clean.
Poor Blood Flow
Often, individuals in nursing homes have multiple afflictions that can lead to complications across each of them. For instance, diabetes can restrict blood flow to tissues that are susceptible to or compromised from sores. Comprehensive treatment of all known conditions plays a role in the formation and severity of skin ulcers and sores in vulnerable patients.
Improperly Fitting Assistive Devices
Some patients require support for weak or paralyzed body parts. Poor-fitting splints, casts or braces can restrict blood flow, create friction and promote the accumulation of sweat on the skin. These conditions are conducive to the formation of ulcers throughout the body, including arms, legs, neck and back. Checking for tightness and periodic removal of these devices improves circulation and can keep skin dry.
Lack of Exercise
Often the elderly and people who have difficulty moving remain in the same position for extended periods leading to poor circulation. Without proper blood flow throughout the body, oxygen levels can decline and inadequately nourish skin cells preventing their replication. Physical therapy and exercise regimens are necessary for anyone who is bedridden. Trained therapists can assist with the regular movement of body parts to maintain healthy blood flow.
Patients in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are limited in their ability to care for themselves. They may be susceptible to the formation of sores and ulcers because illness and age can quickly compromise the skin. Preventing or treating early-stage bedsores and skin issues throughout the body can avoid life-threatening complications, including sepsis and some forms of cancer.