As an at home caregiver, bedsores give me the heeby-jeebies! Here are my best tips and ideas for how to combat bedsores early on with home remedies.
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- My Caregiver Story
- What Is A Bedsore?
- Alternative Remedies For Bed Sores
- Home Care For Bedsores FAQ
- Alternative Remedies For Bed Sores Wrapup
- Additional Bed Sore Research
My Caregiver Story
My mother in law is very inactive and prone to getting bedsores on her butt and legs because she moves so little, AND sits in the same chair all day and night (she hasn't slept in a bed for almost 10 years now).
Because she is so inactive and her body parts hit the same place all the time, I try to nip a new sore in the bud before it breaks the skin.
Keeping an eye on her butt is a little hard because she won't take a shower, but I also look and see if she shifting while she is sitting or I catch her with her pants down while she is going to the bathroom.
If you are a new caregiver and this sounds creepy, please know that I love my second Mom and bedsores hurt A LOT so anything I can do to keep her from getting one is on the table!
What Is A Bedsore?
Bed sores or pressure ulcers are common among people who are bed-ridden or in a wheelchair. They are injuries to the skin and the tissues under the skin from prolonged pressure of sitting or laying in the same position.
The pressure on the skin weakens it (elderly people have weaker skin to begin with) and once it breaks you are looking at dealing with that pressure ulcer for a LONG time….sigh.
There are plenty of things that a doctor can do to treat them once they get infected, but there are a number of natural ways you can treat them at home, either for yourself or someone you are caring for.
There are 4 stages to bedsores:
- the sore is like a bump on the skin
- the skin over it breaks and form an ulcer
- the sore deepens and damages the tissue beneath
- the wound deepens and reaches till muscles and bones
Obviously, catching them early is the key to successful treatment.
There are a number of ways to treat them at home, some with essential oils, others using items commonly found at home.
Here are a few of the alternative remedies I have heard of using that are a real way to help your loved one! (I tend to reach for essential oils first, but some of these other ones are tried and true!)
Additional Resource :: The Mayo Clinic is my “go to” for medical info, here is their info on bed sores!
Alternative Remedies For Bed Sores
Before there was a pill for everything, people still were able to help their loved ones! These are some great alternative remedies you can try.
That said, I would only really use these during the first or second stage of an ulcer. If you find that it is getting away from you, for sure seek medical advice for your person!
You can use one of these or try different ones as you go.
I KNOW how hard it is to get your loved one to play along sometimes…. for real I would never tell Mom I was putting egg whites on her butt, I would use a compassionate lie and say it was special ointment!
Additional Resource :: Should You Lie To Your Dementia Loved Ones?
Where possible I have included links to studies that show medical confirmation of the efficacy of the remedies. That said, some are just handed down, generation to generation!
Simply apply the egg white on the affected areas in an even layer and let it dry. Then wash off with water.
Do this twice a day. The egg whites help regenerate the tissue.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera has great anti-inflammatory properties. You can keep an aloe vera plant at home for really fresh gel, or if your thumb isn’t so green, it’s easily found at your local pharmacy.
Apply the gel over the affected skin in a thin layer. No need to wash it off, repeat twice a day.
Additional Resource :: According to a Bio Med Central triple blind clinical trial, “Aloe Vera gel could prevent the occurrence of pressure ulcers in the intervention group.” source BMC
Lavender Essential Oil
This essential oil is great for healing and also providing comfort to the skin. It has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that help, plus diluting it with coconut oil or shea butter adds the healing properties of those as well.
Lavender essential oil can be applied neat (by itself) or diluted as mentioned above. Apply to the affected area and cover it with clean gauze.
I always dilute essential oils before I put them on Mom. She isn't sensitive to them, but her skin is pretty thin at this point and can get irritated if I am not careful.
Vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties. Don’t apply to open wounds and always dilute with water, one tablespoon of vinegar to one cup of water. Apply and let dry and then cover with clean gauze. Repeat twice a day.
Epsom salts restores the pH balance to skin and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Add a cup to a warm bath and soak for 30 minutes.
I haven't tried this one since Mom WILL NOT get into a tub, but I have to think that if your loved one has a bedsore on their foot or heel you could use a little basin and have them sit on the side of the bed or in their wheelchair.
Honey is a very effective treatment for bedsores. It is a natural antiseptic, softens skin and reduces pain. Just mix equal amounts of sugar and honey well to form a thick mixture and apply directly to the affected area. Then cover with clean gauze. Use once daily.
Study on the use of honey to treat bedsores: “Application of honey dressing provides a better wound healing, rapid pain relief in cancer patients with bedsores in palliative settings.” source www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiseptic. It promotes healing and reduces the risk of infection.
To use, first clean the affected area with water. Apply turmeric powder on the affected skin area and cover with a clean bandage. Repeat three times a day.
I use turmeric myself daily. It helps with the occasional inflammation I get in my hands from typing so much and doing artwork.
Witch hazel is an astringent and when mixed with frankincense or myrrh essential oil, it’s a good healing agent.
Simply mix witch hazel and myrrh or frankincense and apply to bed sores up to 4 times a day.
I would suggest making a roller bottle of this mix so that you can easily roll it on and then gently rub it over the area that is affected!
Home Care For Bedsores FAQ
I know I had lots of questions about bedsores when Mom got her first one, so here are some of the things that I have learned.
Why Are Bedsores So Bad?
As you go down the road of caring for your loved one, you will find things that seem bad, but that turn out to be TERRIBLE in the long haul. Two other ones that come to mind for me are when Mom got C Diff in the hospital and pooped so much forever and when she a UTI.
Bedsores are like that too!
Mom had a little discomfort sitting for a while and I didn't think anything of it. Because she has dementia her mind and body don't always talk to each other so well so it got infected before I even knew it existed.
They called it a pressure sore and told me I had to make her move around more… good luck with that one!
We did have her sit differently (when she could remember) to relieve pressure on the place she always sat and had her sit in a different chair to change the pressure points during the healing process.
Inspecting Those Body Parts
My Mother In Law is super compliant most of the time, but she DOES NOT LIKE when I want to look at her butt and the back of her legs (heck she throws a fit when I clean her bathroom so it doesn't stink like pee!)
Before a bedsore becomes an ulcer, it just looks like little area of rash or maybe the start of a pimple. To me it just looks like something not quite right or different is happening to her skin (sorry no picture … I have to draw the line somewhere!)
After a while the top skin will come off of it if you don't keep it tended with one of the alternative remedies and try to NOT have pressure on the affected area.
The very most important thing is to get it early to prevent infection. Once there is more going on than just a rash or minor wound you HAVE to get them to a doctor to get help!
Alternative Remedies For Bed Sores Wrapup
Okey dokey… that is a wrap (pun intended! If we can't laugh we will just cry!)
I know many of you may be dealing with bed sores from things like diabetes, cancer or other ailment your loved one has other than dementia.
Please understand that I don't know much about blood sugar, weight loss or how a lowered blood supply can effect your loved one's skin.
Dementia is not a body medical condition, it is a problem with her mind and how it processes info, so just check with your doctor if your loved one has something besides Dementia before trying these remedies!
And also know that I am here in it with you! We just have to tackle these things one at a time and remember that they aren't doing the things that cause bedsores on purpose… they are just doing the best they can too!
Additional Bed Sore Research
Okay, I admit I nerded out while writing this post and read a LOT of info about bedsores! Also, people will recommend articles to me after I publish so I will include things that really struck a chord with me here!
Pressure Ulcers: Prevention, Evaluation, and Management – GREAT overview of pressure ulcers from Amercan Family Physician
Best quote! “Not only do ulcers affect the quality of life and result in longer hospitalizations, but they also constitute as a burden to families and caretakers, and cause multiple and life threatening medical complications.” source clinmedjournals.org