Bedsores on head are more likely to develop in individuals who are bedridden, immobile, unconscious, or unable to feel pain. Bedsores on the back of the head can form when the skin is constantly pressed upon, such as during prolonged periods of bed rest, constantly sitting in a wheelchair with the head tilted on the headrest, or while wearing a cast.
For older adults who are frail, head bedsores can indeed be a serious concern. The quality of care they receive may impact the development of bedsores. An immobile or bedridden person can develop bed sores if they are not turned, positioned correctly, and given proper nutrition and skin care. Those with diabetes, blood circulation problems, and poor nutrition are at a higher risk of developing these bedsores.
Symptoms of Head Bedsores
Bedsores on the head generally exhibit the following symptoms:
- Changes in skin color – Dark skin on the head may exhibit bluish, purple, or shiny patches, while light-colored skin may change from pink, red, or dark when exposed to UV light. The discoloration might indicate the formation of an open sore if it persists for more than ten to thirty minutes after removing the pressure.
- Changes in texture – There may be a feeling of hardness or sponginess in the area affected.
- Bruised skin – Pus or fluid may be present when a wound is shallow and open. The damage may have penetrated more profound layers of the scalp.
- Secondary infection – You may notice that the pressure ulcer on the head has changed in color or texture around the edge, contains more pus, is surrounded by green or black tissue, or there is an accompanied fever. These are clear indications of secondary bacterial infection that has developed from untreated bedsores on the head.
It is common for those who have been deprived of blood supply for more than 2 or 3 hours to develop bed sores on the head. If left untreated, these wounds can become dangerously infected, resulting in a severe infection. Bedsores can initially appear as painful red spots, turning purple as the skin dies.
Bedsores on head may become deeper over time. In very advanced stages, they might penetrate the bones and fail to heal for a long time after they develop. Generally, it takes approximately four to six weeks for a bed sore to heal, depending on the severity, the position of the body, and other underlying diseases (such as uncontrolled diabetes).
There are instances when surgery might be necessary to facilitate the healing process.
Stages of bedsores on head
According to the extent of the injury, pressure sores on head can be classified into different stages. Depending on the severity, a saline solution may then be used to clean the wounds. Once the wound has been cleaned and thoroughly disinfected, the affected skin must be kept clean, moist, and covered with a bandage.
A thorough understanding of how bedsores develop is crucial to effectively preventing and treating them. Seeking professional medical help is a wise idea to treat or manage bedsores on the head.
- Stage one
At this stage, the head bedsores are considered mild. Only the upper layers of the skin of the head will be affected now. It is common for bedsores to appear red at the beginning of their development and to feel rough or warm. They are generally not painful, and they are blanchable, which means they leave an indentation when touched.
What should I do?
The first and most important step in the treatment of bedsores on head is to relieve pressure from the head. Using a foam pad, doughnut pillow, or mattress can help reduce the discomfort experienced.
- It is vital to help the person stay active every two hours if they spend much time in bed. Whenever they are seated, they should move every 15 minutes. You may need to seek assistance from someone.
- Clean the sores with mild soap and water and gently pat dry.
- You should consume a diet high in proteins, vitamins A and C, and iron and zinc. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.
In the second stage, bedsores on the head are characterized by the appearance of an open area on the skin. In this open area, there may be sensitivity and/or pain. Occasionally, bedsores at the back of the head may resemble sunburns, while in other cases, they may resemble blisters.
What should I do?
Stage 1 follows the same steps as Stage 2. It is also crucial to clean the wound with water or a saltwater solution and then gently dry it. If you feel pain during the cleaning process, you may need to take a pain reliever 30 to 60 minutes in advance, but strictly under professional medical guidance.
Cover the sore with moist gauze or a transparent dressing. You should contact your doctor immediately if you notice any signs of infection (such as pus, fever, or redness).
Late Stages: When to see a doctor?
Stage three bedsores on the head are characterized by an opening in the skin due to penetration by the sores that exposes the fat tissue beneath. By this time, the infection spreads to the deeper layers of the skin, resulting in a crater-like appearance.
What should I do?
Stage 3 sores require more close attention. You must schedule an appointment with your physician for treatment for bedsores on head. The physician may remove any dead tissue and prescribe antibiotics to treat if any secondary infection occurs. Getting a specially-designed bed or mattress will be a good idea to offer some relief.
This is the most serious stage of bedsores on the head when eventually, the infection exposes muscle or bone. It is a critical stage also because infection or gangrene is very likely to occur. Some individuals experience pain during this stage, while others do not, which happens due to damage caused to the nerves by severe bedsores.
What should I do?
Do get in touch with your physician at the earliest. Surgical treatment may be required, and you should seek treatment as soon as possible.
Treatment for bed sores on the head
Different types of pressure sores require different methods of treatment. Once the stage and severity of the wound have been determined, the wound should be cleaned properly.
After cleaning and moisturizing, it is best to cover head bedsores in a bandage to protect the wound. If the wound requires dressing, your doctor may use different types of bandages like –
- Dry dressing with water-based gel (hydrogel)
- Dressing with foam
- Dressing made of hydrocolloid
- Seaweed dressing (alginate)
There are times when debridement may be needed. The purpose of this procedure is to remove dead tissue from the wound. Debridement is an important part of the healing process, resulting in a short-term (acute) wound rather than a long-term (chronic) wound.
Debridement may take a variety of forms; among these methods are –
- Ultrasound – Sound waves are used to remove dead tissue.
- Irrigation – Fluid is used to remove dead tissue (often pressurized).
- Laser – Dead tissue is removed using a focused light beam.
- Surgery – The dead tissue is removed, and the wound is closed by surgery.
- Topical – Medical-grade honey or enzyme ointment is recommended.
The risk of developing pressure sores on the head can be reduced by adopting the right precautionary measures. If the pressure ulcer on the head is in its early stages, it can be treated effectively at home. However, if the ulcer is more advanced, then it needs to be treated by a doctor or registered caregiver only.
Bedsores on the head or any other part of the body must be treated with all seriousness to avoid further health hazards.