PREVENTING PRESSURE ULCERSPressure ulcers are very costly and time-consuming to heal. A deep pressure ulcer can take many months to heal. It is far easier to prevent a pressure ulcer than it is to heal one.
Good Skin Care
One of the best things you can do to help prevent pressure ulcers is to take good care of the person’s skin. Identify people who are at risk for developing pressure ulcers. Inspect their skin, especially bony areas, during baths and whenever they are positioned. Observe closely for common signs of a pressure ulcer. Never massage the skin over bony areas. Never massage an area that may be a pressure ulcer. Doing so could worsen the injury. Notify the appropriate health care professional if you observe symptoms of a pressure ulcer.
Check the care plan before you begin the person’s bath. Older adults tend to have dry skin. The person you are caring for may not require a full bath every day. As well, he or she could be sensitive or even allergic to certain common products. When you bathe someone, clean the skin with a soft cloth or sponge and a mild cleansing agent (if used) to prevent injury or irritation.
Avoid hot water. Pat, don’t rub, the skin dry after the bath. Use a moisturizing cream to avoid dry skin. Apply the moisturizing cream to dry areas such as the elbows, legs and feet. Pay particular attention to the ankles and heels. Avoid alcohol-based skin products.
Aim to keep the skin dry. Skin may be moist from bladder or bowel incontinence, wound drainage or perspiration. People with urinary incontinence should have a thorough physical examination by a knowledgeable doctor. Urinary incontinence can usually be cured, treated, or successfully managed.
Incontinence exposes the skin to moisture and bacteria. It increases the chance of skin breakdown. Cleanse and dry the skin as soon as possible after an episode of incontinence and apply a moisture barrier as indicated on the care plan. A variety of incontinence products may be used. These products come in many sizes and absorbencies. They are designed to meet the needs of a variety of people at different times of the day or night. Ensure that you use the correct product for the correct time of day.
Adequate protein and other nutrients are essential to maintain healthy skin. An adequate fluid intake is also important. Encourage the person in your care to eat a healthy diet. Offer fluids throughout the day to prevent dehydration. Monitor their food and fluid intake. A healthcare professional should be notified if there is any concern about nutrition.