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What to Look for in Choosing Ointments for Bed Sores

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Bed sores, also known as pressure sores or pressure ulcers, are painful skin conditions caused by prolonged confinement to a bed or chair. Anyone who spends a lot of time sitting or sleeping in the same position is at risk of developing bed sores. These sores can appear anywhere on the body's surface and can penetrate the bones and ligaments, causing excruciating pain and discomfort.

While it's best to prevent the development of pressure sores, it's essential to know that they can be treated if they do occur. One of the most common and effective treatments for pressure ulcers is the application of ointment for bed sores. When selecting the right ointment, it's crucial to understand the different options available and how they can help heal your wounds. This article will provide you with information on everything you need to know when choosing an ointment for your bed sores.

Symptoms of Bed Sores

The symptoms of bed sores vary based on the stage. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • Skin discoloration
  • Pain, itching, or burning
  • Necrosis of dead skin
  • Swelling
  • Tender areas

If left untreated, the sores may become infected. Some of the symptoms of infected pressure sores include:

  • Fever
  • Foul smell
  • Redness
  • Pus

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Ointment for Bed Sores

There are various factors to consider when choosing an ointment for bed sores. Some of these factors include:

  1. Stage of bed sore: Different ointments are suitable for different stages of pressure ulcer. Due to this, you must examine the bed sore and determine its stage before selecting an ointment for pressure ulcer treatment.
  2. Active ingredients: Bed sore prevention creams vary based on their active ingredients. Some active ingredients are better suited to treating some symptoms more than others. Some of the common active ingredients for pressure ulcers include collagenase, iodine, and hydrocolloid.
  3. Skin sensitivity: Consider the sensitivity of the patient’s skin before selecting an ointment. Some ointments may be too harsh on the skin and cause irritation.
  4. Ease of application: Any ointment you choose should be easy to apply and ensure that it doesn’t cause discomfort to the patient.
  5. Safety: It is important to choose an ointment that is safe for use and has a low risk of side effects.

Types of Ointments for Bed Sores

Pressure ulcer ointments are topical medications applied directly to the wound to accelerate healing. These ointments may be covered with a secondary dressing or left without one. Some of the most common ointments for bed sores include:

Cadexomer-iodine Paste

This ointment consists of a water-soluble, modified starch polymer that contains iodine. When exposed to the sore, this paste releases free iodine to kill bacteria and clean the wound. The iodine acts as an antiseptic on the sore. It contains tiny beads that absorb fluids, pus, and dead tissues.

How often you use cadexomer-iodine paste depends on the size of the wound. Larger wounds necessitate more frequent applications, and you must reapply the gel to the sore when it changes color.

Collagenase-containing Ointment

Topical agents that contain collagenase are also great for treating bed sores. The collagenase enzyme breaks down the collagen holding the tissues together. It promotes cell migration and collagen remodeling during tissue repair and regeneration.

Collagenase-containing ointments may be used alone or along with other medications. The ointment should be applied to the affected area once daily, or more frequently if the dressing becomes soiled. Avoid using collagenase topical if the patient is allergic. Collagenase allergies can cause skin irritation or worsen existing skin conditions.


Hydrogels consist of water and a starch polymer. Depending on the moisture levels of the wound, these distinct groups of biocompatible 3D polymeric substances absorb wound exudate or rehydrate wounds. This barrier cream for bed sores helps relieve pain by cooling the wound. The high water content in hydrogels means that they are not completely absorbent. As a result, they should only be used for pressure ulcers with mild to moderate exudation.

Silver Sulfadiazine Cream

This topical agent is used along with other treatments to treat wound infections. Silver sulfadiazine inhibits the growth of bacteria that could infect an open wound, lowering the risk of bacterial spread to the surrounding skin or the blood.

To get the most from this medication, you must use it regularly. Treatment will be continued until the sore has healed completely or the site is ready for skin grafting.

Phenytoin Topical

Phenytoin is widely used for the treatment of convulsive disorders. However, several studies have shown that it promotes the healing of pressure sores when it is applied as a topical agent. Phenytoin aids wound healing by facilitating ​​collagen deposition and fibroblast proliferation. It is considered safe, but it is less effective than most other ointments for bed sores.

Tips for Using Ointment for Bed Sores

Follow these tips when using bed sore prevention creams:

  • Read the instructions on the ointment's packaging.
  • Before applying the ointment, clean the affected area with a mild soap and warm water. 
  • Use a sterile bandage if the bed sore is large or difficult to cover alone.
  • Avoid using too much ointment. Apply the ointment in a thin layer to avoid clogging the pores.
  • To get the best results, it is important to use the ointment consistently and as directed.

Bottom Line

Choosing the right ointment for bed sores is an important step in the healing process. Consider its ingredients, moisturizing properties, as well as the ability to penetrate the skin when choosing ointments for bed sores. Consult a healthcare professional if you have any questions or if you are unsure which ointment is best for you.

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