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All bed sores require diligent cleaning and monitoring throughout the healing process. Preventing the wound from advancing into a more serious bed sore stage is essential. Depending on the severity of the bed sore and the mobility of the patient, one or more medical professionals may be needed to assist in bed sore treatment. They may include wound care specialists, nurses, physical therapists and surgeons.
Because of the painful nature of this type of wound, pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen may be recommended as part of the bed sore treatment process. Topical medications including lidocaine are often useful for bed sore treatment as well, and antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bed sore infections in more serious cases.
Alleviating pressure is key in treating bed sores, to restore blood flow and repair damaged skin tissue. Constant repositioning is necessary to allow for proper blood flow. Repositioning is recommended every 15 minutes in a wheelchair, or every two hours in a bed. Gel, foam and other specialty cushions, also known as support surfaces, can also assist in relieving pressure and treating bed sores.
Regardless of the stage of the bed sore, skin should be kept clean and dry, and should be checked on a regular basis. Protective creams or lotions may be used to protect skin from moisture. Sores should be bandaged, and bandages must be changed regularly to avoid infection and additional skin damage.
The course of treatment for bed sores also depends upon the stage of the wound. With proper care, bed sores that are classified as Stage I and Stage II have a strong chance of healing within a few weeks to a few months, depending on the individual.
Stage III and Stage IV bed sores may take months to a year or more to heal. With a long healing process, the focus should be on pain management and infection control. Debridement is also important to the healing process, and involves the removal of dead or infected skin tissue from the bed sore. This can occur surgically, or through various types of dressings meant to draw out dead tissue. Further tissue damage should also be prevented through regular monitoring and diligent care of the bed sore wound. Additionally, surgery may become necessary in some cases to treat bed sore infection, cover the wound and limit fluid loss.
Newer, alternative methods of bed sore treatment are also available and may be recommended in certain cases, including electrical stimulation, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and negative-pressure wound therapy. All are meant to trigger new tissue growth more rapidly to speed healing. These bed sore treatments tend to be offered at specialized wound clinics.
Electrical stimulation therapy emits electrical currents through electrodes placed close to a bed sore in order to speed tissue repair and wound closure. This technique is not painful, and may be used for advanced wounds that do not respond well to traditional forms of bed sore treatment. Recent experiments with undergarments featuring built-in electrodes are said to have been successful. They stimulate muscles to promote blood flow, and help patients avoid bed sores.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or breathing pure oxygen within a pressurized space, is thought to improve the oxygen supply to the wound. This bed sore treatment increases the amount of oxygen in the blood to speed bed sore healing and fight infection.
Negative pressure wound therapy is another form of treatment for bed sores. It is used to treat chronic, persistent bed sore wounds. Using a sealed wound dressing, negative pressure is applied through a vacuum pump to remove fluid and maximize blood flow.
Discuss your bed sore treatment with your doctor to determine the best way to heal your bed sore wounds.
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