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- Every day, you and your child should look for the following signs of pressure sores:
It is much easier to prevent pressure sores than to treat them.
- Red marks.
- Cuts or scratches.
- Be sure that your child’s braces, shoes, and wheelchair fit properly. Break in new equipment gradually.
- Watch the way your child transfers. It is important that your child tries to lift his or her body to transfer rather than sliding, which creates friction burns.
- If your child spends time crawling on the floor, be careful to prevent carpet burns and other skin damage.
- If your child primarily uses a wheelchair, get him or her in the habit of doing wheelchair lifts and shifts. Every 15 to 20 minutes, your child should lift his or her buttocks off the wheelchair, or at least shift his or her weight to relieve pressure.
- If your child’s skin becomes reddened, determine the source and relieve the pressure. Ask your child to stay off the affected area until his or her skin color returns to normal. If the skin does not return to normal color within 20 to 30 minutes, seek care from a health care provider.
- If your child has an area of skin breakdown, special dressings or treatments will usually be necessary to help heal the sores. Have your child assist in applying the treatment that his or her health care provider has selected.
- Since much of your child’s day is spent at school, make sure that he or she is aware of some latex-containing items that are often found in the school setting: art supplies, balloons, latex gloves, and balls. If your child has developed a latex allergy, increased precautions are needed.
- Check skin everyday for cuts, bruises, scratches, swelling, and red marks. Be sure to check the buttocks and all parts of the feet, including the skin between the toes.
- Use a large hand-held mirror to look at any place on your body that you can not see.
- Shower or bathe daily. Check the water temperature before getting into your shower or bath. Dry skin well, especially the seat (pubic and anal areas) and between the toes.
- Use only soap and water. Avoid use of body creams or gels if they irritate your skin.
- Be careful with any item that has been heated.
- Apply sunscreen lotion with a protection factor of at least 15 (SPF 15) to all exposed skin before spending time in the sun. Wear a hat and avoid being out in the sun for extended periods of time. To protect feet from sharp objects and rough surfaces, wear water shoes when at a pool, lake, or beach.
- Wear socks and shoes when you are awake and up and about.
- Care for nails and toes; cut toenails carefully or see a podiatrist (a foot doctor).
- Perform frequent wheelchair pushups/shifts.
- Maintain adequate inflation and cleanliness of wheelchair cushions.
- Don't smoke.
- Eat healthy foods.
- Drink plenty of water (6 to 8 glasses a day).
- Avoid latex as a preventive measure.
- People who have Spina Bifida usually have a loss of sensation of the skin below the level of their lesion. This condition, called insensate skin, means that you may not feel pain, touch, or respond to heat or cold on the area of skin below the level of your lesion.
- If you take medications for the kidneys and to help keep you dry, like DitropanTM or DetrolTM, you need to be aware that these drugs can cause decreased sweating. As a result, you may become overheated quickly which makes your skin dry.
- Signs of insensate skin are:
- Lack of feeling.
- Poor circulation.
- Inability to sweat.
- Bruising and slowness in healing.
- It takes extra time and thought to care for skin you cannot feel. It is critically important to make sure taking care of your skin is part of your daily routine.
Guidelines for Spina Bifida and Health Care Services Throughout Life, Edited by Karen Rauen
Health Guide for Parents of Children Living with Spina Bifida
SBA Latex List, a list of common latex items and safe alternatives.
Organizations that Can Help
Spina Bifida Association Chapters
Spina Bifida Clinics
Skin and Wound Care Product Vendors
SBA has researched vendors which provide skin and wound care products. We also recommend that you research options that may be available in your region of the country for your insurance options. A vendor listing does not imply endorsement of products. This listing is for informational purposes only.
Please Note: These resources and information are reviewed periodically. They do not represent all of the resources currently available on a topic. If any updates are needed or if you would like to recommend a resource, please email the Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.