Cleaning and dressing pressure ulcers is vital to promote healing and prevent complications. Pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores or pressure sores, occur due to prolonged pressure on certain body areas, resulting in skin and tissue damage. Neglecting proper hygiene can make these wounds worse. For these reasons, it is crucial to know how to effectively clean and dress pressure ulcers to support the healing process and minimize the risk of infection. This article outlines the essential steps for cleaning and dressing pressure ulcers.
Steps to Take Before Cleaning the Pressure Ulcer
Before you clean the ulcer you should assess it, gather the correct supplies, and clean yourself. Let’s talk about why you need to do that here:
Before you clean and dress the wound, it’s important to check how bad it is. Pressure ulcers have different stages, ranging from just a little bit of redness to deep tissue damage. If the ulcer looks deep and infected, immediately call a doctor. By assessing the ulcer, you can figure out the right way to clean and dress it.
Gather the Essential Supplies
Make sure you have everything you need. Here are the essential supplies:
- Clean nitrile gloves
- A gentle cleansing soap
- Sterile saline solution or a saltwater mixture
- Clean sterile water
- Clean gauze
- Fresh dressings of your choice or as recommended by a doctor
- Special ointments and antibacterial products that your doctor already prescribed
Use Proper Hygiene
Maintaining clean hands is crucial to prevent the introduction of germs or dirt into the wound. To ensure thorough hand hygiene, it is recommended to wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds, for effective cleansing. However, in situations where soap and water are not readily accessible, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer is a suitable alternative.
Cleaning the Wound: A Guide
When you clean the pressure ulcer, be gentle so you don’t cause more harm than already occurred. That means being deliberate in your care, making sure not to pull the skin, and taking the steps as outlined below. Before you start, take out any dirt, dead tissue, with attention and care. Here are the steps to follow:
- Use mild cleanser on skin: If the skin around the pressure ulcer is intact, clean with a gentle cleanser. If not, you’re going to need the help of a specialist.
- Next, remove dirt and/or debris from the wound. Then, pat skin dry with a clean towel or clean soft cloth.
- Clean open sores with water or saline solution. Simply squirt the saline into the wound and pat dry.
- For open sore pressure ulcers, clean every time you change the dressing, using either plain water or the saltwater solution. This helps remove bacteria, debris, and excess fluid.
- Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine cleansers on pressure ulcers because they are too harsh on the skin and can cause harm. Instead, stick to gentle soap and saline solution.
- Use a specialized dressing to cover the pressure ulcer. These dressings create a protective barrier, maintain a moist healing environment, and they also prevent contamination. Depending on the stage and severity of the pressure ulcer, your healthcare professional will recommend suitable dressing types like hydrocolloid dressings, foam dressings, or transparent films.
Using a Saline Rinse for Pressure Ulcers
If the pressure ulcer is Stage II, meaning there is a shallow open sore, a saline rinse can be helpful. Why? First of all, this rinse helps remove loose, dead tissue. Also, it creates a healthier environment for the wound to completely heal.
In summary, properly cleaning and dressing pressure ulcers is vital for healing and reducing complications. Follow the steps recommended for cleaning a pressure ulcer, assess the ulcer’s severity, gather the supplies you’ll need, and maintain good hygiene. Handle the wound gently,don’t tear the skin or cause further friction, remove dirt, and pat dry. Clean open sores with water or saline during dressing changes, avoiding harsh cleansers. Use specialized dressings to create a protective barrier and maintain a moist environment with ointments and specialized dressing. For Stage II ulcers, a saltwater or saline rinse aids in tissue removal and healing. Adhering to these guidelines ensures optimal care, supporting the healing process and improving patient outcomes.
Contact Wound Care OC for wound treatment in Orange County, CA
Dr. Faried Banimahd is a board-certified physician specializing in emergency medicine, wound care, and pain management. Our team will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that meets your needs and unique conditions. Our clinic includes highly trained and experienced physicians, registered nurses, and certified medical staff who work together to provide you with the highest standards of wound care treatments.