One of the most common orthopaedic problems is the incidence of bed ulcer followed by immobility. Now, scientists say that Aloe Vera gel could help prevent the occurrence of bed sores.
In a new study, researchers said applying aloe vera gel can help to reduce pain, bleeding and recovery time. Also, it ensures that there was no infection in the wound, no redness and itching.
They found that Aloe vera prevent the rise in temperature, non-blanchable redness, swelling and pain that leads to bed sores in hospitalised patients in many orthopaedic ward.
The clinical trial published in the 2018 edition of BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine was done on 80 purposefully selected patients in orthopaedic ward in Arak town, Iran, 2016 that were at risk of moderate to severe bed sores.
The patients were randomly assigned into two intervention and control groups based on blocking sampling method. They were assessed for signs of bed sores such as redness, skin heat, and swelling and pain on days three, seven and 10.
In the intervention group, in addition to routine nursing care to prevent bed sores by nurses, twice a day, pure Aloe Vera gel was rubbed on the areas of hip, sacrum and heel while placebo (gel of water and starch) were used in the control group.
Eight patients in the control group and only two patients in the intervention group had redness, temperature changes, edema and pain in areas under study or in other words, were affected by ulcer grade one.
According to them, using Aloe Vera gel on the hip, sacrum and heel of patients prevented temperature changes and pain that reflect the occurrence of bed sore.
Also redness in the control group was more than in the intervention group, which represents the effect of Aloe Vera gel in the prevention of redness and bed sores in the intervention group.
Temperature change (especially the temperature rise) and discolouration of the skin in areas under pressure as the most important signs of bed sores.
According to them, “Aloe Vera is much more effective and less costly in the prevention and healing the ulcers compared to current treatments. Also, since the side effects of this drug have been proven to be trivial over the years, it seems Aloe Vera is a good substitute to replace the current methods or to be used as a complementary method for prevention of pressure ulcers and improving community health.”
Pressure ulcer affects more than 3.1 million adults worldwide annually. It has also a high mortality rate. The Emergency Care Research Centre of England reported the risk of death in patients with bed sores to be two to six times more than the other patients.
Most patients admitted to the orthopedic ward are at risk of developing pressure ulcers for several factors, including age, physical limitations, diseases such as diabetes and heart problems, incontinence of urine and faeces and having traction.
Many studies have also shown the usefulness of Aloe Vera for treating various wounds such as psoriasis, mouth ulcers, diabetic ulcers, herpes and bed sores.
Many researchers have investigated various methods for the prevention and treatment of bed sores such as the use of olive oil, coconut oil and sheepskin.
In 2013, researchers said olive-oil-based formulas were cost-effective products that achieve similar beneficial outcomes like other skin care products that contain oils derived from hyperoxygenated fatty acids (HOFA) in preventing bed sores.
The study, published in the journal, Trials, found that the fatty acids present in extra virgin olive oil encourage regeneration of the skin, in addition to increasing its hydration, elasticity and strength.
The oil was also found to reduce skin breakdown and therefore offer protection to areas of skin that were subjected to long periods of friction or pressure, such as is often present in patients who are confined to wheelchairs or bedridden.
Moreover, due to its antiseptic and soothing properties, honey can also soothe the skin where there are mild bed sores. It can provide relief from pain, reduce itching and promote healing. Honey can also reduce the risk of infection.
Being rich in medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil can keep the skin healthy and protect it from damage caused by pressure sores. In addition, massaging it onto the body will improve blood circulation.