The skin is an important organ. It protects against external organisms, eliminates wastes, maintains temperature control and synthesizes vitamin D. While everyone is at risk for developing a pressure, people who are immobile or confused are at greatest risk. Here are five ways to prevent pressure ulcers.
- Reposition and redistribute pressure. Pressure ulcers are caused when unrelieved pressure causes tissue damage. The most common places for pressure ulcers to form are at body prominences such as heels, ankles, knees, elbows, sacrum, back of head and the ears.
a. People should be repositioned every 1-2 hours
b. Avoid friction by using transfer aids to prevent dragging
c. Avoid positioning on tubes or drains
- Do a head-to-toe skin inspection every day. This will help you find any reddened areas or blisters that could be developing into a pressure ulcer.
- Keep the skin dry. When the skin gets wet from urine, feces, wound drainage or sweat, it is more likely to breakdown.
a. Clean skin after it becomes soiled
b. Use cleansers or soaps that are neutral in PH and contain a moisturizer
c. Use protective skin barrier lotions or creams
d. Pat skin, do not rub
- Eat proper nutrition.
a. Drink plenty of fluids
b. Protein intake should be 1.25-1.5 grams of protein/kg of body weight daily (especially important if there is an existing pressure ulcer)
c. Oral supplements
- Use supportive devices. These help to redistribute pressure. It is important to note that doughnut-type rings have been shown to do more harm than good.
a. Seat cushions and overlays
b. Mattress overlay
c. Float heals off bed
An estimated $11 billion each year is spent on pressure ulcers and care. By following these interventions and regularly assessing the skin, pressure ulcers can be prevented.