Anytime you’re immobilized for an extended period—for example, if you use a wheelchair or are bedridden with an illness or after a surgery—there’s a risk that you will develop a bedsore. About two million Americans develop bedsores each year. Bedsores—also known as pressure sores—occur when there’s sustained pressure against a part of the body, which reduces circulation to tissue. Eventually, starved tissue is damaged and starts to decay. Moisture and unsanitary conditions, such as those caused by urinary or fecal incontinence, increase one’s risk for bedsores. To prevent bedsores…

Get the right nutrients—and stay hydrated. Studies show that people who are well-nourished are much less likely to develop bedsores than those who don’t get enough key nutrients. If you are bedridden or use a wheelchair, it’s vital that you have several daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and take supplements to ensure adequate intake of the following nutrients—typically 400 international units (IU) of vitamin E (mixed tocopherols)…2,000 mg of vitamin C…40 mg of zinc…350 mg of magnesium…and 500 mg of calcium daily. Ask your doctor about specific doses for you. Also, be sure to drink at least eight eight-ounce glasses of water daily—this helps promote good circulation and skin health.

Know what to look for. Bedsores typically begin with an area of redness. In the early stages, this redness lightens with direct pressure. As a sore progresses, the red color does not go away with pressure, and the area may become swollen, painful or blistered. Do a full-body inspection of your skin—or have someone do it for you—daily. Good rule of thumb: Bedridden people must change position—or have their position changed for them—at least every two hours.

Use extra care with bedding. Make sure that your sheets are soft, clean and dry and that the bottom sheet fits the mattress snugly and stays as wrinkle-free as possible so it won’t rub against the body. Be sure to stay cool to avoid perspiration and be aware of issues related to incontinence and hygiene. Avoid oily lotions—bedsores are less likely when the skin is dry and cool.

If a bedsore starts to develop: Tell your doctor. You can also start a natural medicine protocol that helps restore tissue health in early-stage bedsores. What to do: Get a tube of T-Relief (a homeopathic topical preparation)…and tinctures of calendula and Oregon Grape Root (one ounce each) in a natural-food store. Combine the two tinctures in one bottle. Then apply alternately the undiluted tincture mixture (one-quarter teaspoon per dose) and the T-Relief (a pea-size dollop) to the reddened skin of a new bedsore every four hours for a total of no more than four applications daily. With each application, massage the remedy into the skin very gently for a few minutes. Continue this process until the bedsore is gone. Do not use this protocol on open or moist sores. See your physician immediately if a bedsore blisters or breaks open. It can become infected and may require treatment with an antibiotic.