People who are dealing with incontinence are at high risk for developing pressure sores. This is due in large part to the moisture that can be trapped on the skin and make it vulnerable to damage. In addition, many people with incontinence also lack mobility which also increases the risk. Because of this it is important to know what causes pressure sores, how to prevent them, and how to treat them should they happen.
The first step in preventing pressure sores is to know what they look like. Once a caregiver can identify pressure sores (also known as bed sores), he or she can take immediate action to keep them from developing further. There are certain symptoms that indicate a developing skin sore. These symptoms are-
• Discoloration of the skin-The skin of the patient will often look red or even purple colored. This often happen on the back or the legs where the person is in constant contact with a bed or wheelchair.
• A foul smell- The area of the skin where the sore is located can have a foul smell.
• Unusual warmth-The area where the pressure sore is developing or has developed may be warmer than other parts of the skin.
• Swelling- The area on the skin where the pressure sore has developed will look swollen.
• Pain-The area where the pressure sore is will be painful to the touch.
• Discharge- If the sore has broken through the skin there may be a foul smelling discharge.
Now that the characteristics of a pressure sore have been identified it becomes crucial to understand what can be done to prevent them. There are certain steps that can be taken to keep the patient from developing such skin problems. These steps are-
• Wearing the right incontinence product- It is crucial that the patient wear the proper size incontinence underwear. Whether the patient is using an adult diaper or some other kind of incontinence undergarment it should be sized to the person with incontinence. Ill-fitting incontinence undergarments can cause chaffing that can bring on skin sores. In addition, the gender of the incontinent person should be taken into account since there are incontinence products for men and incontinence products for women.
• Keep skin clean and dry- There are a number of different incontinence products that can help to keep the skin of the incontinent person clean and dry. This is especially important for preventing pressure sores from developing. Keep in mind that the skin should be moisturized but never wet.
If a skin sore does develop it is important to seek treatment right away. For some people a pressure sore can become a serious and even life threatening problem. If you see a sore on someone that you are caring for you should contact their doctor right away.
Other steps that you should take include-
• Move the patient periodically- If the person is lacking in mobility make sure that they are turned periodically to relieve pressure on vulnerable points.
• Keep pressure sores clean and dry-Regular treatment of the wounds that develop is crucial.
• Use the right type of dressings-There is certain bandages that prevent dragging and tearing on the wounds.