Pressure sores, also known as bedsores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are a problem that arises if there is inadequate flow of blood to the skin. The most typical cause of pressure sores is lack of movement, such as when veins are squeezed between a bone and surface of a mattress or wheelchair.
Since the skin layers are being squeezed, it can’t get adequate nourishment and sores develop. In addition, pressure sores can are also caused by the friction between a person’s skin and a bed sheet or from extended skin contact with wetness ( sweat, urine, or stool ).
Pressure sores happen in 4 stages:
1. The skin area gets heated and red in the area covering the bone. This soreness does not go away after 15 minutes of pressure reduction, and there is no opening in the skin layer.
2. An open wound emerges as a blister, that is red-colored and painful.
3. The skin layer breaks and the wound seeps out through the top skin layer. The region encircling the wound or blister is red, but the sore is not hurting anymore.
4. The wound opens down to the muscle tissue or bone and keeps seeping. If the wound is closed, a black scab might cover it. The region around the wound will remain red.
Preventing Pressure Ulcers
Pressure sores can be difficult and expensive to treat so it is best to prevent them from happening in the first place. Stopping pressure sores can be as easy as helping the patient to change positions often. Eating a good diet, keeping skin clean and moisture free also help in preventing pressure sores.
Here are some ways to prevent pressure sores:
- Reposition the patient every 2 hours
- Have them sit up in a chair for a few hours
- Keep an eye out for the early pressure sore signs mentioned above
- A thin layer of corn starch on the sheets will help to reduce friction
- Maintain dry bed sheets that are free of wrinkles
- Use egg crate padding on the mattress
- Place extra padding under head, elbows, shoulders, ankles, hips, knees and tailbone
When sitting in a chair or wheelchair:
- Place the hips in the middle of the seat between the armrests
- Position the buttocks to the back of the chair – use a small pillow for added support if needed
- Ease pressure from back of thighs by putting feet on floor or footrests