1. How do bed sores form?

Someone who is lying in bed for extended periods of time without being able to move around is vulnerable to getting bed sores, also called pressure sores. Bed sores typically form where the bones are close to the skin. If a person is unable to turn around or shift in bed, remaining in one position for too long; this prevents adequate blood flow to those parts of the skin and it becomes raw. Bed sores also form when lying on a wrinkled sheet or clothes or if the sheets and clothes are rubbing against the skin.

2. Where do bed sores most commonly form?

3. How serious are the bed sores?

There are 4 stages in which bed sores can be categorized:

Stage 1: The skin has developed some level of discoloration but there is no open wound. For lighter complexions the skin may look red, but for darker skin complexions the skin may look blue, purple or white.

Stage 2: There is now an open wound but it is shallow and the edges of the wound have become infected or have dead tissue.

Stage 3: The wound is very open and deep and extends below the top layer of skin into the fat tissue layers. There may be fluid or pus coming out of the wound.

Stage 4: The wound is now very large and affects several layers of skin tissue. The muscle or bone may be exposed and there may be eschar, which is a dark substance that indicates necrotic (dead) tissue.

Stages 3 and 4 require medical intervention and possibly surgery to treat the wound properly.

4. How can bed sores be treated?

Here are a few suggestions on how to treat bed sores, including homemade remedies: (note that it may be best to consult your doctor for advice about how to treat a bed sore)

  • Saline solution – mix 2 teaspoons of salt in a cup of water and bring to a boil. Let it cool down and use this solution to clean the affected body area. Allow to dry thoroughly then cover with bandage. Repeat a few times a day.
  • Warm cloth solution – soak a soft cloth in warm water and thoroughly wash the bed sores. You can add a drop of antibacterial soap if available. Repeat twice a day, once in morning and once at night to keep body free of germs.
  • Turmeric solution – turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and has antioxidant properties that help the body in fighting infection. Clean area with sterile water/saline solution. Sprinkle enough turmeric powder to cover wound. Cover area with bandage and repeat 3 times a day. The person can also drink turmeric milk 2 times daily.
  • Honey solution – Honey also has antiseptic properties. Prepare a thick mixture with equal amounts of honey and sugar. Apply this mixture to affected body area and cover with a bandage. Follow this treatment once daily.
  • Aloe Vera solution – Cut open an aloe vera leaf or extract the gel. Apply this gel on affected area and rub gently for a few minutes. Allow to dry then wipe with a clean damp cloth. Repeat this 3 times a day.

Remember that these treatment suggestions are for bed sores in stages 1 and 2 but your should see the doctor if the bed sores worsen or if you are unsure of anything.

5. How can bed sores be prevented?

Here are a few suggestions on how to prevent bed sores:

  • Make sure person drinks enough water throughout each day (very important)
  • Watch out for and notice early danger signs such as redness of skin
  • Encourage/help the person to get out of bed as often as possible
  • Change the person’s position every 2 hours, changing from side to back
  • Keep sheets clean and dry from urine, faeces, vomit and sweat
  • Keep sheets straight so that there are no creases under pressure areas
  • Apply cushions under body to spread the weight of the body
  • Use soft sheets and blankets
  • Use a soft mattress
  • Rub pressure areas with palm of the hand to promote blood flow
  • Clean skin with mild soap and warm water, gently patting the skin dry
  • If the skin is wet/damp, apply baby powder
  • Apply lotion to dry skin
  • Exercise the legs and arms to stimulate blood flow