Pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers -- commonly known as bedsores -- are common complications among hospitalized patients. A new study published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine found a natural way of treating and preventing these ulcers using aloe vera gel.
Pressure ulcers are areas of damaged skin, primarily caused by prolonged pressure in a specific area or staying in one position for too long. It commonly occurs in places where the bones are close to the skin – such as the ankles, back, elbows, heels, and hip. It also is common for people who are bedridden, use a wheelchair or are immobile. These sores can cause infections, some of which can be life-threatening.
Many studies have shown that aloe vera has positive effects and benefits on the skin. In this particular study, researchers at the Arak University of Medical Sciencesin Iran assessed the impact of aloe vera gel on preventing pressure ulcers in patients hospitalized in the orthopedic ward. The team recruited 80 patients to take part in the study. They split the patients into two groups: a treatment group and a control group.
All patients received routine nursing care to prevent bedsores. In addition to this, they received either pure aloe vera or a placebo to apply on the hip, sacrum (the lower back area between the hip bones), and heel areas twice a day. Then, the researchers assessed the sacral, hip, and heel of both groups on the third, seventh, and tenth day to monitor the signs of pressure ulcers.
The results revealed that the application of aloe vera gel prevented a rise in temperature, redness, swelling, and pain in the skin areas. This suggested that aloe vera gel can prevent the development of pressure ulcers in high-risk patients.
The researchers concluded that aloe vera gel is an excellent substitute for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers because it is more effective and less costly than currently available therapies.
Saline water: A saline water solution can be used to clean and rinse skin, help remove unwanted fluid buildup, and to get rid of dead, necrotized tissue. It's also gentle on the skin. You can make your own saline water by mixing two tablespoons of salt into a cup of water, then boil and stir until the mixture is clear. Let the mixture cool and use it in with a dropper or with a clean rag or sterile paper towel.
Honey: Honey contains natural antiseptic properties can help treat pressure ulcers and prevent infection. To use, mix honey with granulated sugar, then apply to the affected area. Cover the area with a clean bandage, change the dressing once a day, and rinse the wound with saline water.
Turmeric: The antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties of turmeric help speed up the healing of pressure ulcers, prevent further development, and fight infection. To use, rinse the wound with a saline cleanse or sterile water, then sprinkle powdered turmeric over the wound. Cover the wound with a clean bandage. Doing this thrice a day will promote fast, effective healing.
Henna: Another treatment for pressure ulcers could be henna (Lawsonia inermis). In traditional medicine, henna is used for treating diseases and skin conditions. Earlier research has also reported that henna contains analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anticancer properties. A study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine reported that henna could be used as a safe, effective, and cheaper preventive treatment for decubitus ulcers. The study's researchers applied a mixture of henna powder and water on the sacrum of ICU patients, then washed it off with warm water, 30 minutes after application.